Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Deer Tick Larva

Smaller than a dog tick is a deer tick. Smaller than a deer tick is a deer tick nymph. The nymphs are the ones most people get Lyme Disease from (like me just recently) because they are easily missed. But even smaller than a deer tick nymph, is the ridiculously tiny deer tick larva. I found this one on my ankle last night. A ruler showing 1/16th inch lines is there for comparison. (Larvae = plural, Larva = singular).

This photo shows the tiny tick near the tip of the ball point pen. But guess what, you CANNOT get Lyme Disease from the larvae. That's because they just hatched and have not had the opportunity to become infected yet.

If you manage to see one of these ticks (it helps if you have lily white skin), how do you know if it's a nymph or a larvae? If it's late summer/early fall odds are it's a larva. My rough guide is that if it's so small you can't see the legs without a magnifying glass, it's a larva. That might not work for everyone. So here's another way: The larvae have only six legs, while nymphs and adults have eight. You are going to need a magnifying glass to see this. Here's the one from last night (taken through a magnifying glass). Note that the long mouth parts are not legs.


Tom H. said...


Dick Skudlarek said...

Just yesterday I found what was ultimately a deer tick larvae on my ankle. At first I thought it was a little scab, but having experienced Lyme disease previously, and finding deer ticks twice so far this summer, I made sure to check with a magnifying glass. Sure enough, I saw the tiny legs and performed a tickodectomy with my trusty tick tweezers. Your blog and photos have been a great help in determining that this was a larvae, not a nymphotickiate. Thanks...I didn't want to be taking those antibiotics again for 15 days!

Unknown said...

Thanks for this information. Perhaps because N.E. Winter essentially didn't happen, we've been dealing with these tiny pests for several days. The five hot days in March probably gave the cycle an unusual kick start. Most troubling is that these creatures can't be easily excised from the skin. On me I just dig with a knife until I'm beneath the thing. The dog yelps however, and she's not known to cry. What I might consider is just shaving off the top of the larva so it dies, then let it scab out. This is not going to be a fun Summer -- of that much I'm certain.
Brookfield, MA

Teresa said...

The ADULT deer ticks will burrow half their body (it seems that way at least) and sometime rip in half when you pull them out. We had a pediatrician actually tell us to leave it that way because it would be more trauma digging out the head than it was worth. That was a real surprise. So that's what I do now and I've never had a problem.

Larvae ticks should not be out this early. The nymph ticks are just becoming active, but they are usually pretty easy to pull right out if you have tweezers.

Anonymous said...

this really helped! thanks!

Serena said...

Thank you!!!!! I just think I got one of these and was worried, but I'm glad to hear I'm not likely to get infected from it...Thanks for sharing that info that I was not aware of about the tick larva.