In California, hard (Ixodidae) ticks transmit at least 8 zoonotic disease agents (1 virus, 6 bacteria, 1 protozoan) to humans or other animals. The correct taxonomic identification of all 3 parasitic stages (larvae, nymphs, adults) of ticks is integral to understanding host-tick associations and disease dynamics, but immature ticks, especially the larvae, can be difficult to identify. Here, we present larval keys to the 4 genera of Ixodidae (Dermacentor Koch 1844; Haemaphysalis Koch 1844; Ixodes Latreille 1795; Rhipicephalus Koch 1844) and to the 18 species of Ixodes known to be established in California. Several new diagnostic features, as well as photographs of microscopic structures, are provided to facilitate identification. Non-exclusive characters are utilized to separate the subgenera Ixodiopsis Filippova 1957 and Pholeoixodes Schulze 1942.
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