black legged ticks

Scott Bauer / USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Time to break out the long pants: Tick season is back!

The past couple of years we've had a tick boom along the west side of the state and it's happening again this year.

Erik Foster is the medical entomologist with the Michigan Department of Community Health. He says reported Lyme disease cases rose 60% last year – from 98 in 2012 to 165 in 2013. 

He says it’s not clear yet whether we're going to see anything as dramatic as that this year, but so far this year is looking like another banner year for ticks.

CDC

  If you’re doing anything outdoors this holiday weekend—from camping to gardening in the backyard—you should be on the lookout for ticks and mosquitoes.

Public health officials warn that tick populations are booming throughout the state this season.

“We’ve seen a lot of tick activity increase in the last couple of weeks,” says Angela Minicuci, Public Information Officer with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Whether you’re in a grassy area like a park or out in the woods, ticks can be hanging around. There are two key ways to guard against them.

CDC

On today's Environment Report, we talked about ticks.

Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell told me that tick season is booming in Michigan this year.

And the boom is happening in areas where ticks were relatively rare a few years ago.

Specifically, Russell says the blacklegged tick population is expanding in Michigan. Those are the bad ones. The suckers that can carry Lyme disease.

Interlochen Public Radio reports that vacationers heading up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore should be on the lookout for ticks this year, as some could be infected with the Lyme parasite.

Blacklegged tick population booms along west Michigan shoreline

Jun 19, 2012
CDC

Blacklegged ticks – formerly known as deer ticks - are historically rare in the Lower Peninsula. But over the past decade, that’s been changing. The tick population is booming along the west Michigan shoreline.

Erik Foster is a medical entomologist with the Michigan Department of Community Health. He’s been studying the tick population as it’s been moving north.

“It’s been so rapid, anecdotal reports say within the last five years of these ticks moving in and just really flourishing. Because of the habitat, and because of the amount of hosts they have to feed on.”

He says the Lake Michigan shoreline is a good habitat for ticks.

Foster says because the winter was so mild, more mice and chipmunks survived. Those animals are hosts for ticks, and that means more ticks made it through the winter too.

He says deer and birds are also hosts for ticks, and they're transporting the insects north.

Foster says blacklegged ticks can transmit Lyme disease. He recommends wearing insect repellant that contains DEET and checking yourself and your pets for ticks after you walk in tall grass or in the woods.

You can learn more about ticks in this document from the state of Michigan: Ticks and Your Health.

(Michael Levin, Centers for Disease Control)

Tens of thousands of Michiganders will spend this holiday weekend camping or just going for a long walk in the woods.   But state health officials are warning that you may come into contact with ticks.