Difference Between Deer Tick and Wood Tick

Deer ticks and wood ticks are both species of arachnids that transmit diseases to animals and humans. The diseases they transmit are different, as is their size and their preferred host.

Deer ticks live in primarily the Eastern and Mid Western U.S. They are found in wooded and grassy areas and they prefer white-tailed deer as their host. Deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease, which can be transmitted to humans as well as pets.

Wood ticks live in wooded areas, such as the Rocky Mountains. They are the common carriers of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Wood ticks pick up this disease from rodents in their early life cycle stages.

Wood ticks and deer ticks both have a four-stage life cycle- egg, larva, nymph and adult. The tick mates when it is on the host's body. The female tick will then drop off of the host to find a place to lay her eggs. The eggs will hatch and then the larvae will feed on a host. When finished, they will drop to the ground, molt, and emerge as nymphs. The nymph will then find a host, feed, then molt and become an adult.

Adult deer ticks are very small compared to other ticks. Deer ticks are smaller than 1/16th of an inch. Deer ticks are about half the size of wood ticks when both species are adults.

Wood ticks and deer ticks are both three-host ticks, which means they need to feed off of a different host in the various stages of their lives. Female wood ticks will feed until they are fully engorged, while males will feed and then look for a mate. After the mate is found, they return to feeding. Female deer ticks will feed for longer times than males as well.

Ticks are one of the leading carriers of diseases in the world, next to the mosquito. Deer ticks are specifically a vector, or carrier, of Lyme disease. In fact, they may be the only carrier of this debilitating disease.

Deer ticks were found to be the carriers of Lyme disease in the 1970's. A doctor in Lyme, Connecticut attributed them with being the cause of a breakout of juvenile arthritis. Lyme disease is transmitted to the ticks from feeding from a host that is infected. Most deer ticks contract Lyme disease in their nymph stage when they feed on white-footed mice.

Lyme disease can be a painful, with symptoms that include extreme fatigue, joint pain and aching. The first symptoms of the disease will usually present themselves as a rash around the bite area.

Lyme disease is treatable and, if diagnosed early, can be cured. The most important factor in diagnosing Lyme disease is early identification. This can be difficult, since the symptoms of Lyme disease are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases.

Deer ticks are tiny and hard to detect when they choose a host. If you are outdoors in an area where deer ticks are prevalent, you need to be diligent about checking yourself for ticks. Lyme disease can also be transmitted to pets, so keeping an eye on your dog or cat is important as well.

If you locate a deer tick on yourself or your pet, remove it immediately. If the deer tick has already started to feed, detach it carefully and preserve it in rubbing alcohol. Take the deer tick to the doctor with you, or the veterinarian with your pet, so they can identify it. This will help in treating the disease properly.