Engorged female ticks scutum and mouthparts help identification

Submit your tick to TickReport.com!

"I've removed a biting tick, now what!?" Follow the 4-step TickSpotter approach:

Nymphal-stage blacklegged (deer) ticks are the size of a poppy-seed on a bagel. Do you think you could find this tick biting below the belt?


You've just found or removed a tick from yourself or a pet. Your first thought is to flush it down the toilet or cause untold carnage upon it. STOP! SAVE your tick! It's the first step towards peace of mind. Next step, TAKE A PICTURE.


TAKE A PICTURE of your tick and SUBMIT it to TickEncounter.org TickSpotters program. If you're having trouble identifying your tick TickEncounter is there to help. Make sure you check out their Tick Identification Guide and learn what to look for. Next step, IDENTIFY your tick.


Identifying your tick correctly is crucial. There are different life stages and different species of ticks, each with varying risk of carrying tickborne disease. Use the TickEncounter.org Tick Identification Chart  to IDENTIFY your SAVED tick. Next step, SUBMIT your tick.


TickSpotters SUBMIT their tick picture, along with the date the tick was found. This information feeds into the TickEncounter.org Current Tick Activity app that helps drive tick awareness. You also may want to SUBMIT your tick to TickReport.com to determine if the tick is carrying a tickborne disease.

Tick Testing


First, the good news, not all ticks carry pathogenic organisms. Unfortunately, you won't be able to tell which ones are carriers just by looking at them.


If you find a tick on you, and you’re worried it may carry Lyme disease, you can send it to a lab and have it tested. Here's a list of Tick Testing Labs.


Since different types of ticks carry different pathogens, you’ll need to correctly identify your tick to order the correct tests:

  • Blacklegged (deer) ticks: Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi
  • American dog ticks: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia
  • Lone Star ticks: Ehrlichia chafeensis, Borrelia lonestari



Transmission risk from an infected tick increases the longer they are attached and feeding. An infectious dose of Lyme disease bacteria typically takes longer than 48 hrs to be transmitted.

How to identify a tick?

Scutum (shield) pattern


Ticks have a dorsal scutum or "shield" and each species has a unique pattern or color. Ixodes ticks often have a black/brown solid colored scutum. Whereas, Dermacentor and Amblyomma ticks each have a patterned scutum.





Festoons are small areas separated by short grooves on the back margin of the tick and helps distinguish all other ticks from Ixodes ticks, which lack festoons.




Location & Time of Year


Based on your location in North America and the time of year, only certain ticks will be active. You can use the TickEncounter.org Current Tick Activity application to see which species and stages are likely in your region at the time; then  combine this information with what you saw on the scutum and back margin (festoons) to make the identification.



Submit your tick to TickSpotters. If you send a picture, TickEncounter will help confirm your id and give you a customized tickborne disease risk assessment and TickSmart action plan.

Fill out my online form.

Connect with TERC – together we can help stop the spread of tickborne disease!