The Black-legged Tick Lifecycle

Bob miller wrote an interesting piece in the Westport News about the Deer Tick lifecycle.  The information is based on a study conducted by the Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance.

In a nutshell, it specifies that the adult black-legged tick lays about 3,000 eggs.  Each surviving egg matures through three stages of growth with each stage requiring a blood meal:

  1. Larval stage – generally feeds on smaller mammals (e.g., white-footed mice);
  2. Nymphal stage – generally feeds on larger mammals and possibly humans;
  3. Adult stage – generally feeds on deer.

Disease may be picked up during any feeding but the tick is believed to pick up most of its diseased blood from the smaller mammals.  I would also be interested in knowing if the adult tick passes diseases to its offspring like most other species.  This would explain why so many people develop coinfections.  That is, each generation of tick accumulates diseases from past generations and feedings.

Time for Lyme of Greenwich, Ct. states the following:

  • Up to 40% of ticks tested in some areas of Connecticut are positive for Lyme disease (CT Agricultural Experiment Station—Tick Management Handbook, published 2004).
  • Because the nymph tick is difficult to detect due to its tiny size, most Lyme disease cases are associated with the bite of a nymphal stage of the blacklegged tick, of which 10-36% may be infected with Lyme disease spirochetes.  Adult ticks are larger and thus easier to find, but do have a higher infection rate, up to 60% in Lyme endemic areas (CT Agricultural Experiment Station—Tick Management Handbook, published 2004)

 As John D. Bleiweiss, M.D.  has cautiously pointed out in the past:

While deer ticks and LD have a well known affiliation, other potential vectors can carry the spirochete that causes LD (Borrelia burgdorferi; Bb). These include, the lone star tick, fleas, the biting flies (e.g. green-headed fly) (and mosquitoes?). A case of suspected transmission via blood transfusion has been reported by Dr. Burrascano.

So, my advice to all is to absorb all the Lyme information as possible  The scientific community is still learning and we have a long way to go.  It’s best to use your own judgement and caution.

It’s much wiser and economical to be safe and vigilent.  Unlike Lyme disase, paranoia isn’t shunned by most medical plans.

The Westplort News article can be found at:

~ by Rob on February 27, 2010.

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