Ticks in Northern Illinois

Ticks in Northern Illinois

According to the studies and research conducted at the University of Illinois, you are likely to get a tick-borne disease if you go out hiking or hunting along the river corridors and dense areas of Illinois. This shows the impact and increase of the population of ticks in Illinois. Illinois comprises nearly 15 different ticks species, including the prominent disease-causing ticks like the American Dog Tick, deer ticks, lone star ticks, and brown dog tick. This blog will discuss the most prominent tick species in Northern Illinois and how to remove them.

Blacklegged ticks:

The most common tick in the northern part of the state of Illinois is the blacklegged tick. They are found in the river corridors and the dense suburban areas of Illinois. They are 0.11 inches. Unlike other hard ticks, the blacklegged ticks do not possess eyes or festoons. The white markings on the scrutiny are also seen missing. These ticks are black to brown. Below the scutum, the females have a reddish-brown color. 

The life cycle of black-legged ticks:

Black-legged ticks take two years to complete the life cycle. The females lay thousands of eggs at a time. These eggs hatch into six-legged larvae. Larvae are active during August. These larvae, after feeding on a host, would moult into nymphs. Nymphs go through the same process of consuming blood from hosts and moult into adults. Only in the adult stage, they would have genitals which is the requirement for reproduction. 

The adults find their preferable hosts, and they feed on them for days to weeks. The period differs for males and females. The mating occurs on the host. After the meal, the females drop off the host, digest the food, and then lay their eggs in the most suitable place. 

Feeding pattern and preferable hosts: 

The blacklegged ticks Or the deer ticks feed on mammals such as humans, dogs, and livestock. But the most preferred host is the white-tailed deer. 

Disease transmission: 

The black-legged ticks get the Lyme disease-causing pathogen from biting the white-tailed deer. This animal is the reservoir animal for Borrelia burgdorferi. 

The various human diseases for which they act as pathogens are as follows:

  • Anaplasmosis.
  • Powassan virus disease.
  • Ehrlichiosis.
  • Babesiosis.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Borrelia miyamotoi disease.

American Dog Tick:

The American Dog tick is the most prevalent and disease-causing tick in Northern Illinois and in the United States. The larvae of American dog ticks are yellow and measure 0.62 mm. 

American dog tick is found in the Rocky mountainous regions. 


The adult American dog ticks are reddish-brown. The nymphs are yellowish and brown. The average size of males and females is 3.6mm and 5 mm, respectively. These females may grow about 10 mm to 15 mm after feeding. 

Life cycle:

The American dog ticks may take two years to complete the life cycle. But at the least, they may take 54 days to complete the entire life cycle. The duration of the life cycle depends on climatic conditions and host availability. These ticks need three blood meals during a life cycle. 

Larvae feed for 14 days, whereas nymphs feed for ten days. The nymphs feed on animals such as raccoons, opossums, rabbits, etc. Larvae feed on squirrels, mice, etc. According to a study, American dog ticks are likely to be active from April to September. Peaks happen twice a year. The first is during May or June and August Or September. 

Diseases they are likely to cause:

They may be vectors of the causative agent Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes the Rocky Mountain region. The reservoir of this disease is rodents. These ticks spread the bacteria Francisella tularensis. This bacteria causes Tularemia. Also, they may cause tick paralysis in dogs. So it is significant to keep away your dogs too from these ticks. 

Lone Star Ticks: 

The lone Star ticks are also known as the cricket tick and the turkey tick. The lone star tick scientifically is known as Amblyomma americanum. 


The scutum is present in both males and females. The shields on the females are bigger than that of the males. The adult female lone star ticks have a star-like design on the back of the ticks. The males have white dots in the corner of their backs. 

The life cycle of Lone Star ticks:

The lone Star ticks, just like other ticks species, have three stages. These ticks cannot survive hot climates. The lone star ticks require water. These absorb the water from the air as opposed to drinking water directly. The females lay 20,000 eggs at a time. The adult ticks have to feed for 8 to 20 days before laying eggs. 

The lone star tick larvae which emerge from the eggs feed on blood for 4–7 days. The nymphs feed for 5–10 days before moulting. The hosts for the lone star tick adults are large mammals. The nymph and larvae feed on birds and small mammals. 

Diseases :

They are capable of spreading diseases such as :

  • Eehrlichiosis causative agent is ehrlichia ewingii), 
  • Ehrlichiosis this is caused by ehrlichia chaffeensis),
  • Canine and human granulocytic
  • Francisella tularensis, which causes Tularemia
  • Southern tick-associated rash illness

Prevention of ticks:

Tick prevention is significant in keeping away from contracting diseases:

  • Apply 20 percent DEET insect repellent creams 
  • Use clothes and shoes treated with permethrin
  • Grow tick eating birds and animals such as turkey, guinea fowls, chickens and 
  • Keep away from tick prone regions

Removal of Ticks in Northern Illinois

Materials required 

  • Latex gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Tweezers
  • Container with a tight lid
  • Ziplock

Step 1

Wear gloves before starting the procedure. 

Using tweezers remove the tick with stable hands


Place the tick in the container if you are swinging it for testing. Otherwise,  just place it in rubbing alcohol for killing. 


Applying rubbing alcohol on the hands, tick bite area, and tweezers. This step is to get rid of any bacteria present on the surface.


Make sure to label the container with location and date. 

It is crucial not to squeeze or wiggle the tick. This action may result in the release of saliva. The saliva may contain harmful pathogens in the blood of the victim. 

If the head is still attached, remove it carefully with less pressure as saliva may be present inside the mouthparts. 


Ticks are dangerous as they cause diseases with long-term effects. Vaccines are not available for all types of tick diseases. There is ongoing research regarding many tick-borne diseases vaccines. It is significant to prevent tick bites to protect oneself from tick-borne diseases in Northern Illinois.