A Tick With Wings?

September 01, 2011
In Fall, there’s nothing more enjoyable than a walk in the woods, except for dealing with disease-carrying blacklegged ticks! Recently, we were reminded that adult blacklegged ticks aren’t the only tiny creature likely to latch on in Fall. So, what’s flat like a tick? Sucks blood like a tick? Gets on deer like a tick? But ISN’T a tick??

Deer Keds, (Lipoptena cervi)! A tick with wings? Not so fast. Adult stage ticks and nymphs have 8 legs and no wings. A tick found at the top of your head has crawled up your entire body to get there. But did they fall from a tree you may ask? NO! Deer ticks are found in shady areas in leaf litter and along wooded pathways. Dog ticks can however be found in open lawns and grassy areas.

Believe it or not, Deer Ked’s wings just drop off within minutes of landing on a host (even a human, who is not a typical host). They lose their wings to make it easier for them to move into the host hair and not be groomed off.

A bit bigger than a female deer tick, sometimes with wings or, more often, scurrying about your body on its 6 legs without wings. This creature is the aforementioned Deer Ked (Lipoptena cervi), and is in the fly family (Diptera: Hippoboscidae-louse flies or keds). They are external parasites on animals like deer and elk. Other species of these flies parasitize sheep, horses, even pigeons. If you do get one on you, don’t worry. It’s not likely to stay for long….people usually brush them off because they feel something crawling around.