Most of our exposure to ticks in the Midwest involves three species of tick that often associate with people and pets.  These are the blacklegged tick or deer tick, the American dog tick or wood tick, and the lone star tick, all of which are generally active between March and November. After hatching from an egg, each these tick species has three life stages (larva, nymph, and adult) and must get a blood meal from a host to move between each stage, but the species differ widely in size, appearance, host preference, and potential to transmit disease agents.  Get to know the habits, habitat and associated disease risk for these ticks by following the links below.

Tick Types

Tick Research in MCE-VBD Partner States


Summary of Iowa tick activities under construction!


Summary of Illinois tick activities under construction!


Summary of Minnesota tick activities under construction!


Summary of Michigan tick activities under construction!


Click here to learn about research and monitoring work conducted in Wisconsin by Dr. Susan Paskewitz and her colleagues.

Tick Biology

The three tick species most often seen in the Upper Midwest are the so-called “hard ticks” because of a hard, shield-like structure found on their backs. The hard tick life cycle begins when a mated, blood-fed female deposits a thousand or more eggs in a mass on the ground. Larvae emerge from the eggs and develop into nymphs, which then become adults. Immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) must bite a host and feed on blood before they can develop to the next stage. Larval ticks (also known as “seed ticks”) can be distinguished from nymphs and adults by their small size and six legs. Nymphs and adults are larger and have eight legs. The ticks of medical importance in the Upper Midwest all feed on a variety of separate small vertebrate hosts (typically rodents or birds) as larvae and nymphs, then on larger hosts (including people) as adults. 

Tick-borne Disease and Prevention Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Tickborne Diseases of the United States -- A wealth of information about how to prevent tick bites, diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne disease, and other topics.


"Common Ticks" from the Illinois Department of Public Health

"Identification Key to Some Common Ticks of Illinois


"Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases in Iowa" from Iowa State University Extension Publications

See individual disease entries on this page from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

"Tips and Tricks for Avoiding and Removing Ticks" from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources


"Ticks and Your Health" from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

"Michigan's Five Most Common Ticks" from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services


"Tickborne Disease" from the Minnesota Department of Health

"Ticks and their Control" From University of Minnesota Extension


"Tickborne infections in Wisconsin" from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services