Lone Star Tick
Oak Ridge, TN
Ticks are arachnids (because they have 8 legs), but they are NOT spiders. They do not make webs or spin silk. The good
news about Lone Star tick is it doesn't carry Lyme disease (see next photo), the bad
news is it does carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever! Lone Star ticks get their name from the single white dot on the abdomen. We found this one crawling on a beatsheet during science camp. There is a large population of white-tailed deer in the area, they are one of the main food sources for these ticks. They are happy to take a few microliters of blood from a human too! It is hard to believe that an animal can have only 3 meals in its lifetime, but that is what ticks do. They hatch into a 6-legged larva (although I must say I have not bothered to count the legs when I pull one of those little suckers off!), eat a blood meal, molt into an 8-legged nymph, eat again and molt into an adult. Then up to 3 years later the adults mate, the female eats another blood meal, she lays thousands of eggs, and finally, she dies. Ticks inject an anticoagulant into their victim to keep the blood flowing while they eat. Unfortunately, that substance can trigger allergic reactions in some people. I'm one of them, I will have severe itching for a month at the site of the bite of even the tiniest tick.
Here is a good website to explain the life cycle of ticks: