Common NameMoose tick; winter tick
SeasonalityWinter ticks are most commonly encountered in fall and winter. Larvae hatch and begin questing (host seeking) from August to October. Winter ticks feed and stay on their hosts until March/April, when adult females detach and drop to the ground. Females die soon after laying eggs in June. Males may remain on their hosts until May (Samuel 2004).
IdentificationAdult winter ticks are various shades of brown with grey patterning on their scutum (shield) (Cooley 1938). The rectangular basis capitulum (base of mouthparts) is wider than long, and the palpi are short and stout (Cooley 1938). The hypostome (piercing mouthpart) has three rows of dentition (teeth) on either side of the median. Spurs are present on all four pairs of coxae (base of legs) (Cooley 1938). The first pair of coxae (coxae I) have two spurs each. Coxae II and III also have two spurs each, although their internal spurs are always much shorter. Coxae IV only have one well-developed spur each. An adult winter tick has eleven festoons (marginal divisions) on the end of its body (Cooley 1938; Yunker et al. 1986).
Adult winter ticks are distinguishable by rounded spiracular plates that consist of moderate numbers of large goblet cells (Cooley 1938; Yunker et al. 1986). Dorsal prolongations on the spiracular plates may or may not be present (Leo et al. 2010) (See images).
It is difficult to identify larval and nymphal winter ticks based on morphology due to their small size.