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You don’t have to be an outdoor adventurer to encounter a tick. In fact, people can encounter ticks where they live, work, learn and play, making it difficult to know exactly where the tick came from. Any time you step off the pavement, you could possibly encounter a blacklegged (deer) tick. Even if you don’t, lone star ticks you could be present in parking lots and board walks. Groundcovers such as pachysandra might contain blacklegged (deer) ticks. And don't forget that your pet can bring any of these ticks into your home.

Ticks are blood-feeding ectoparasites that quest for hosts in preferred environments. The three main tick species have different habitat preferences and tolerances:

  • The blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick, requires high humidity or moisture to survive. Therefore, this tick is most often found in the forest and at the forest edge where tree cover, dense vegetation, and leaf litter provide a moist environment.
  • The lone star tick is able to survive in a wide range of habitats from the shade of the forest to the sun of a lawn.
  • The American dog tick can survive in warm, dry locations such as roadsides, trails and lawns.
  • Asian longhorned ticks have been associated with pastures, but have also been found in a wide range of habitats.

See answers to your questions about tick biology here.

In the graphic below, the colored bars show how often the different tick species are found in the woods, the edge, and turf. Click to enlarge.

slide with text "Where are the ticks" and image of a landscape with woods, tall grass (labeled Edge), and lawn (labeled Turf) with bar graphs showing likelihood that different tick species would be found in those areas. Lonestar and Asian longhorned ticks are found in all areas equally, American dog ticks are found mostly in 2/3 edge and 1/3 turf, and blacklegged ticks are found over 1/2 woods, 1/8 turf, and the remainder edge.
Photo: NYSIPM. Click photo to see enlarged version.