Fight the Bite: It is Tick Season!

May 17, 2024

Spring is here, and all around us, animals are waking up and getting ready for an exciting summer. Our bees are gathering pollen from the earliest flowers, Illinois is set to see two periodic broods of cicadas, and frogs and toads can be heard calling all around. Among this waking wildlife is a little arachnid that concerns us each year: the tick. Unfortunately, there will be more ticks this year. The surprising answer as to why actually has to do with acorns. The past two years have been good for acorns, which is good for mice, which is good for ticks. This year, however, we are seeing fewer acorns, which means less mice. With a tick population lagging slightly behind this trend, this year we have lots of ticks with less mice to feed on.

In Illinois, there are typically two common tick types: the deer tick, which carry Lyme disease, and the wood tick. Deer ticks are small and hard to spot, so look out for rashes or bullseye shaped spots on your body. Wood ticks are larger, and while they may not carry Lyme, they are known to carry other germs that may be harmful to humans. 

There is a third tick to look out for this year. The Longhorned Asian Tick has been discovered in Illinois (the 20th state they have been found in so far) and is considered invasive in the US. Currently, it is expected that the tick carries some germs that are dangerous to humans, but we do not know if they can transmit them yet. They are known to be dangerous to livestock and some pets. If you come in contact with a tick, immediately remove it—if you can, try to trap it (a piece of tape works) and keep it. Doctors can sometimes test a tick that bit you to see if there is cause for concern.

The Illinois Department of Health has posted some excellent guidelines for preventing tick bites:

Don’t Let a Tick Make You Sick

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