Amblyomma americanum

Lone star tick

The lone star tick is established throughout some parts of the Midwest, and is slowly spreading northward into others.  They are most active from April through September, and they have a two-year life cycle in most of the region.

Although slightly smaller than American dog ticks, adult females are still fairly large and possess a distinctive white
or cream-colored spot, or “lone star,” on the back, whereas males are smaller and lack this mark. These ticks are
usually caramel brown in color (Figure 7). All active stages will feed readily on humans, other mammals, and even birds.

Lone star ticks can transmit the bacteria that cause rabbit fever (Francisella tularensis) and two variants of a disease called ehrlichiosis.  One of those is canine and human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (caused by Ehrlichia ewingii), and the other is human monocytic ehrlichiosis (caused by Ehrlichia chaffeensis). 

Videos of questing Lone Star ticks

To find a host from which to take a blood meal, tick larvae, nymphs, and adults climb leaves and sticks, extend their front legs, and wait for potential hosts to come by. Heat, movement, and other signals like carbon dioxide given off by host animals cause the ticks to move quickly onto the passing host. These amazing videos by Dr. Graham Hickling at the University of Tennessee Center for Wildlife Health show questing Lone Star ticks. The first video shows a questing female, the second a questing male. Both are adults.