Located on the campus of Georgia Southern University, the U.S. National Tick Collection is the world’s largest curated tick collection.
Started in the early 20th Century, the collection was originally part of the Rocky Mountain Lab in Hamilton, Montana. In the early 1980s, the collection was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Due to lack of space and funds, the collection was loaned to Georgia Southern University in 1990 and has been housed there ever since.
Still owned by the Smithsonian Institution, the massive collection holds tick specimens from across the globe. The collection contains well over one million individual specimens across approximately 860 separate species of the blood-sucking parasite. The assembled specimens were collected from every continent on the globe, found lurking in nearly every imaginable climate.
Ticks are responsible for the spread of a number of diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, African Tick Bite Fever, and, of course, Lyme Disease. With so many infections carried and passed on by the arachnid parasites, studying them is skin-crawling, but highly vital work making the sprawling U.S. collection not just a nightmare factory but an important research center.
Know Before You Go
The U.S. National Tick Collection is open for public tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4 pm (except when the university is closed for holidays). There is a permanent exhibit outside of the collection that is accessible whenever the university is open.The collection is located on the bottom floor of the Math/Physics Building on the North end of campus. Once in the building, follow the signs to get there.