Type of Ticks in Idaho

Type of Ticks in Idaho

Idaho is a well-known northwestern U.S State primarily known for its mountain landscapes and outdoor recreation areas.  Being familiar with outdoor recreation activities, people in Idaho are likely to get infected by ticks as these areas are dense and moist, which is favorable for ticks. This blog is focused on sharing knowledge about different types of ticks in Idaho and how to prevent tick bites.

Different Types Of Ticks In Idaho

Rabbit Tick:

Hemaphysalis leporispalustris, commonly known as the rabbit tick, thrives in the forest regions of Idaho. They are 0.12 inches long. They are tan to reddish-tan in color and have scutum like all hard ticks. There is an absence of any embellishments on the scutum. They are active in the spring and summer months in Idaho. Another prominent feature is the presence of festoons in adult rabbit ticks.

Who are their hosts?

The rabbit ticks are three-host ticks that feed on rabbits in their adulthood. While in their nymph and larvae stages, they may prefer smaller mammals or ground birds as they consume the blood of animals and birds. These hosts may become anemic or sometimes die. These ticks do not prey on humans.

They may be carriers of diseases such as Tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever. These ticks may not contract the pathogens from a reservoir animal alone but through the transovarial method where the disease spreads from pregnant female ticks to their eggs. These diseases may cause severe, life-threatening, long-term effects if left untreated.

Winter Tick: 

Another type of tick found in the province of Idaho is Dermacentor albipictus, or the winter ticks, or moose ticks.

Who are their hosts?

They are one host’s ticks. This means they require one host for their entire life cycle. The winter tick prefers moose as its host. Other animals which may fall prey to the moose tick are bears, deer, beavers, elk, mountain sheep, coyotes, or reindeer.

According to studies, due to a lack of grooming in moose, they can host up to 100,000 ticks per season. The eggs are laid sometime between the end of May and the beginning of June. The larvae may hatch in the summer when it is warmer. The adults of these ticks are active during winter.

The tick-infested moose an experience the following symptoms that include 

  • Itching
  • Irritation and hair loss are the results of excessive grooming. 
  • Weight loss due to reduced consumption of food.
  • Loss of blood along with wound marks.
  • Unusual grooming behavior. As there is high discomfort, they tend to groom abnormally. 

Hair loss could expose the skin of the moose. Due to cold winters, this can be fatal for the moose. These are called “ghost moose.” Moose are likely to get bit during their mating seasons. 

Are they a problem for humans?

As the winter ticks by, the last resort hosts are humans. They do not affect humans in terms of the transmission of diseases. This is because they do not carry any disease-causing pathogens harmful to humans. According to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, winter ticks do not transmit diseases to domestic animals such as horses or cattle. Consumption of the meat of the infected animals poses no risk of contraction.

Brown Dog Ticks:

The brown dog tick, scientifically known as Rhipicephalus sanguineus Latreille, is one of the widespread ticks in Idaho. Brown dog ticks transmit various diseases during their nymph, larvae, and adult stages. They require a warmer climate to survive. They are common in tropical and subtropical areas and seldom in temperate regions.

What are the diseases they may transmit?

Rickettsia rickettsia (Rickettsia rickettsia) is the scientific name for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever rickettsia (Rickettsia rickettsia). RMSF is a disease with a mortality rate of more than 20%.

Canine ehrlichiosis 

Canine babesiosis 

What is the feeding behavior?

Brown dog ticks can survive for up to 18 months without feeding. These ticks can survive inside homes and can also stay inside homes. If your pet dog is not on anti-tick prevention, you or your family becoming a victim of its bite is pretty high. 

When can one encounter ticks?

One can encounter these ticks throughout the year. The brown dog ticks, male and female, are dimorphic. Both the male and female of the brown dogs have a reddish-brown appearance. They have no ornamentation on their bodies. Adult ticks may grow up to 0.12 inches long.

Brown dog ticks can complete up to 4 generations per year. The number of generations per year depends on factors such as:

  • Beneficial climate 
  • Host availability

Due to rising temperatures resulting from climate change, scientists say that the chances of brown dog ticks biting humans are high. The females feed for a week, and it takes 7–14 days to digest the meal. After digestion, the female may lay up to 4,000 eggs. Conducive environments for egg-laying are inside homes, crevices, wood, kennels, and ledges, whereas the males would feed for a shorter duration. 

The egg hatching takes up to 2 to 5 weeks. The adults of these ticks can be encountered from January through November or from April through July. Nymphs and larvae are encountered during June, July, and August. 

Preferable Hosts

These ticks prefer dogs as hosts. They bite on the ears, neck, head, and back of the dogs. But humans may also get bitten by these dogs.

What are the precautions to take to avoid a brown dog tick infestation?

Get to know about Ticks and their habitat.

Check kennels and homes for brown dog ticks or their eggs.

Make sure to check pets, especially dogs, for any ticks. The sooner one finds the tick, the lesser the chance of disease transmission.

Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks:

The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick thrives in the Pacific coastal regions and subalpine ecosystems. Rocky Mountain ticks prefer grassy, wooded, and forested areas like most other ticks. 

Rocky Mountain ticks can be mistaken for American Dog Ticks. This tick is a hard tick. It has a scutum with silver-gray ornamentation. The RMSW ticks are brown in color. They have festoons. They have a pear and a flat look. The number of goblets differentiates these ticks from other ticks. The adults, like most of the ticks, are 0.12 inches. The females lay up to 4,000 eggs every single time.

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick Diseases

Rocky Mountain wood ticks can spread diseases that may cause long-term effects. They are active from early spring to mid-summer. The diseases are as follows:

  • Colorado tick fever virus (CTFV) occurs in humans
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) rickettsia (Rickettsia rickettsii) occurs in humans and dogs.
  • Anaplasma marginale is another disease that occurs in cattle.

They also cause tick paralysis. This occurs both in humans and in dogs. But in the case of dogs, it could be fatal if immediate action is not taken.

After 24–72 hours after tick removal, the tick paralysis resolves. 

Who are the hosts?

The Rocky Mountain Spotted Wood nymphs and larvae consume the blood of voles, chipmunks, and squirrels. While adults prefer humans, sheep, dogs, etc., 

Western Blacklegged Ticks

Western Blacklegged ticks are also known as Ixodes pacificus. The unfed ticks are flat. They are black or brown and carry various pathogens that cause diseases that have chronic effects. Mid to late May is when Western Legged ticks lay their eggs. Larvae feed on rodents, lizards, birds, squirrels, and mice.

They contract these diseases from reservoir animals. The nymphs and adults are both a threat to humans as they feed on them.

One may encounter the nymph from May to August. Females feed during October and May. This is the time for the breeding season. They are hence active throughout the winter in the absence of snow.

What are the diseases these ticks may cause?

The Western Blacklegged tick is the vector of the pathogens which cause the following diseases:

  • Borrelia miyamotoi disease, also known as Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF), is caused by the pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi.
  • Canine Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis Rickettsiosis:
  • Powassan virus

Soft ticks

There are about 193 species of this tick. The soft ticks do not have a shield like the hard ticks. They have a wrinkled appearance. The males and females swell and enlarge in size after feeding. From the top, one may not be able to view the mouth part. They are 14 inches in length and reddish-brown in color.


Cabins or homes with rodents are likely to have these ticks in abundance. Attics and cracks in walls may also contain them. When the larva develops into a nymph and later into an adult, it may have skin that acts as a tough protective layer. They have holes called coxal pores. These are for excretion purposes. They wait in the nest or dwelling of birds or animals for their meal.

These ticks may prefer any animal or bird as a host. The lack of specific prey may be due to their microhabitat. They feed multiple times and reproduce many times. A female can lay less than 500 eggs per cycle. 

The soft ticks do not mate with the host. They mate after or before the consumption of blood from the host. The two Carios species and two Ornithodoros species are said to carry pathogens that affect humans. If ticks are not scratched, squished, or burnt, The salivary glands of the ticks may release it into the blood of the victim. Furthermore, if the tick is not removed, the saliva released to numb the tick bite region may continue to contain infectious pathogens.

may spread the following diseases:

  • Lake Clarendon virus 
  • Borrelia anserine
  • Kyasanur forest disease virus  
  • Quaranfil virus 
  • Gissar virus 
  • Latyshevyi and persica Issyk-Kul viruses

The Carios capensis tick is capable of transmitting diseases such as Borrelia, Coxiella, and Rickettsia, as well as the West Nile virus.

Prevention of Ticks in Idaho

  • Spraying acaricide could help reduce the number of soft ticks. 
  • Ticks eating animals and birds could be helpful.
  • Permethrin on clothes
  • Tick repellents on the body could keep ticks away.
  • Checking for ticks on dogs and other pets and regularly removing ticks on time.


Soft and hard ticks are dangerous as they transmit diseases. Keeping away from tick-infested regions may help, but ticks are spreading to areas where they have never been inhabited before due to climate change. This had become a significant concern in Idaho’s outdoor recreation areas and tourist spots.

Various precautions taken may be helpful in not contracting the disease. There are very few vaccines available for humans for various tick-borne diseases. But it is best to follow preventive methods to prevent tick bites in Idaho.