Ticks and Lyme disease at the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site

The blacklegged ticks

La tique à pattes noire
The blacklegged tick found in Quebec.

The blacklegged tick (deer tick) is the only tick species of a dozen or so found in Quebec that can transmit the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent responsible for Lyme disease, as well as several other bacteria and viruses.

More specifically, ticks live in forests, woodlands, gardens, tall grass and piles of dead leaves. 

Contrary to what we may think, they do not jump, but rather cling to us when we come into contact with the vegetation on which they are found. Ticks are active as soon as the temperature reaches 4°C and there is no more snow on the ground.

How to recognize the blacklegged tick?

Ticks have three stages of development: larva, nymph and adult. Nymphs are small (the size of a sesame seed) and have three pairs of legs, while adult ticks are the size of an apple seed and have four pairs of legs.

At each stage of their life, ticks feed on the blood of animals or humans. Measuring 1 to 3 mm before feeding, they can triple in size when gorged with blood.  Their bite is usually painless and often goes unnoticed.

Différentes taille de la tique à patte noire
Different development stages of the blacklegged tick.
The blood-filled tick can triple in size.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease can occur after the bite of a tick carrying the bacteria, but if the tick is removed within 24 hours, the risk of developing the disease is greatly reduced.

The symptoms of Lyme disease

Piqûres de tique
Target-like redness at the site of the bite.

What to do if you are bitten by a tick?

Remove the tick with tweezers.
Prevention and protective measures against ticks
  • Avoid tall grass, stay on the path and the trails;
  • Use mosquito repellent on exposed parts of your body;
  • Wear a hat, closed shoes and long, light-coloured clothing;
  • Tuck the bottom of your pants into your socks and your sweater into your pants;
  • Examine your pets, clothing and skin for ticks, especially in hard-to-see areas (e.g., scalp, ears, back of knees, neck, groin, armpits, belly button, lower back and buttocks, between the toes, etc.);
  • Dry your clothes in the dryer on high heat;
  • Shower as soon as possible (ideally within two hours) following contact with vegetation in risk areas.

For more information on Lyme disease and the blacklegged ticks, please visit the following websites:

There is a significant risk of getting Lyme disease in the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal area. Visit the Institut national de santé publique du Québec website for more information.(french only)

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