Tick Identification & Info


Identification & Info

Three ticks of different sizes lined up along a ruler scale.

The District can identify resident-submitted ticks but DOES NOT perform disease testing on resident-submitted ticks. Tick testing is performed by the San Mateo County Public Health Laboratory.

The District laboratory conducts surveillance for tick-borne pathogens at parks and open spaces throughout San Mateo County. These results are available on the Tick Surveillance page.


Tick Identification

If you have found a tick on yourself or your pet and want to have it identified, please take the following steps to preserve your specimen for identification:

  • Do not kill the tick
  • Put the live tick in a plastic bag or container with a piece of moist paper towel to provide humidity
  • Write down the location (street address, park name, or trail name) where you think you got the tick
  • if the tick was attached to your skin, note approximately how long it was attached
Ixodes pacificus

Common Ticks of San Mateo County

Although there are 21 species of hard ticks in San Mateo County, the list below are the most common ticks that people and pets contact in the environment.


Tick Biology

There are 49 different species of ticks in California, but only a few species transmit diseases to humans in California.

Ticks are divided into two groups: “hard ticks” (Ixodid ticks) and “soft ticks” (Argasids). Most soft ticks live in the nests of birds or wild animals like squirrels or rabbits. These ticks feed exclusively on animal hosts and are rarely seen by people.