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Engorged female ticks scutum and mouthparts help identification

Female blacklegged (deer) ticks are active October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing.

Female blacklegged (deer) ticks are active October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing.



TickSpotters helps identify the type of tick and assesses the riskiness of your TickEncounter. Submit a tick picture to TickSpotters and receive a customized reply full of best practice, next steps advice in just 1-3 days.


TickEncounter now partners with UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology and their TickReport.com to offer reliable, high quality tick testing with the lowest cost and fastest turn-around time in the industry.

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.

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Submitting a tick to TickReport.com?


Get a comprehensive Tick Report and learn what disease causing microbes the tick may be carrying. As of May 5, 2015, typical cost per tick is $50 for all applicable tests. (Coupon code may apply).


Please note: TickReport.com performs all tick testing and provides you with your tick testing results on their website.


Your test results are available at your customized URL (sent to you when you confirm your TickReport order) on TickReport.com. Once you click "Test a Tick" to leave TickEncounter.org, you’ll be redirected to TickReport.com to complete your order.

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.


Ticks change appearance as they feed, visit growth comparison charts on TickEncounter.org

How to identify a tick?

Focus on these key diagnostic features:

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.



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