Ticks in Wisconsin

Tick Identification

Wisconsin has three main varieties of ticks:

A deer tick, a wood tick, and a lone star tick

(Left to right) adult female blacklegged tick (aka deer tick), adult female wood tick (aka dog tick), adult lone star tick.

The blacklegged tick (or deer tick) is the only tick that can carry Lyme disease, which can be spread to humans. Deer are one of the main hosts for ticks, and an over-abundance of deer can result in an increase in the tick population as well. Being able to effectively monitor our deer populations (such as through the twig-age method) can give us insights into many other possible ecological patterns, including the abundance of ticks in our forests.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is only carried by blacklegged ticks. This bacteria can be transmitted to humans if an infected blacklegged tick has bitten and remained attached for at least 24 hours.

For complete information and recommendations, click here to visit the Center for Disease Control’s website on Lyme disease.

Prevention and Tick Removal

There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease while enjoying the outdoors:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear long sleeves/pants when possible
  • Use a lint roller on your clothes before entering a car or house to get rid of ticks
  • As soon as you return from the outdoors, check your entire body for ticks. Especially check over “warm” areas such as behind the ears, armpits, and groin.

If you do find a tick, follow these steps for safe removal:

  1. Use tweezers to grip the tick as close to your skin as possible.
  2. Pull straight up without twisting or jerking. You want to remove the tick intact so that the mouthparts do not break off and remain in the skin.
  3. Thoroughly wash the bite area with soap and water.
  4. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick to kill it.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

If you were recently bitten by a tick, you’ll want to pay attention to any of the following symptoms that may indicate the presence of Lyme disease:

  • Fever
  • Headache and joint aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes a bull’s eye-shaped rash


Immediately visit your doctor if you were recently bitten by a tick and notice any of the symptoms above. Lyme disease in the early stages is easily treated with a course of antibiotics. Left untreated, Lyme disease can affect joints and heart health, so seeking early treatment is critical.

Additional Resources

Click here for more information on Lyme disease and public health.