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Watch out for ticks!

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Spring is finally here.  And it once again is tick season.  Be aware of these blood thirsty arachnids when you are in fields, wooded areas, and other areas where ticks are know to frequent.  There are two common ticks in Minnesota, the blacklegged tick (also called deer tick) and the American dog tick (also called wood tick).

Both are nuisances because they bite to take a blood meal from not only people but also pests including dogs and horses. Blacklegged (deer) ticks are also a particular issue because they are a potential vector of Lyme disease and other diseases (see also Tick-borne disease in Minnesota). 

Protect yourself when you are out in known tick areas:
  • Stay on trails and try to stay out of brushy, grassy areas where ticks are more common.  
  • Wear long, light colored pants; for additional protection, tuck your pants into your socks.  
  • Use repellants: Deet can be treated on clothes and skin while products with permethrin can only be applied to clothing
  • Do a tick check when you return from the outdoors.  They are small and can be easily overlooked so look carefully.  Be sure to look in out of the way places, like behind ears or behind knees.

Adult female blacklegged (deer) tick. a potential vector of
Lyme disease and diseases. Photo: Jeff Hahn, UMExtension
If you do find a tick, especially if it has been biting, get it positively identified.  While American dog ticks are not an important disease vector, blacklegged (deer) ticks can transmit an array of diseases, especially Lyme disease.  For more information, see Ticks and their control.
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