Interactive Identification Key for the Hard Ticks (Ixodidae) of the Eastern U.S.


Author: Michael Bischof

Faculty Adviser: Dr. Lorenza Beati

Affiliation: Georgia Southern University

Student Type: B.S. Student

This is an interactive taxonomic key for the adult stages of the hard ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) of the eastern United States. This key was inspired by the pictorial key published by Keirans and Litwak (1989). In addition to the taxonomic key, images of the whole bodies of each tick species are provided. In order to make it more realistic and representative of actual tick diversity, this taxonomic key uses only real pictures of specimens stored at the U.S. National Tick Collection in Statesboro, GA.

Ticks have become increasingly important vectors of pathogens of medical and veterinary importance and we felt that simple tick identification keys for the scientific community, public health professionals, as well as the general public should be offered online. Although this key is currently functional, it is also continually being developed and additional photos are being added to increase image quality and effectiveness of identification. This key is currently only able to assist in identification of adult hard ticks found in the eastern United States, but this is only a beginning. After we feel the eastern United States is properly represented, we hope to expand this key to the entire U.S. or even other areas of the world. We also hope to expand this key to immature stages as well.

This project was completed by Michael Bischof as part of an undergraduate research project. Michael is a junior at Georgia Southern University and is currently studying biology and chemistry. This project was completed under the direct supervision of Dr. Lorenza Beati, curator of the U.S. National Tick Collection, and in affiliation with the Institute of Coastal Plain Science and Georgia Southern University. This project was partially funded through NSF grant 0914390 to L. Beati.


Keirans, J.E. and Litwak, T.R. (1989) Pictorial key to the adults of hard ticks, family Ixodidae (Ixodida: Ixodoidea), East of the Mississippi River. Journal of Medical Entomology 26: 435-448.