Bad tick season likely ahead

Ticks are small but dangerous insects which lurk in tall grass and wooded areas and spread disease with their bites. Lyme disease is probably the most well-known of these illnesses, but it is far from the only one. Now some experts are warning that Illinois may be in for an especially bad summer season for ticks.

With the milder spring this year, Maureen Murray, the assistant director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo says we could see more tick activity. “Fewer ticks die during the winter, and ticks can be active sooner in the spring, just because it warms up faster.”

The Department of Public Health (IDPH) says Illinois has more than a dozen different kinds of ticks, though not all of them are encountered by people. One of the more common is the American dog tick, which as its name implies will bite both dogs and humans. It is known to spread illnesses like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Deer ticks, which spread Lyme, is known to be present in much of Illinois, and is particularly active in spring and summer.

IDPH has many tips for avoiding ticks when you are outdoors. Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use bug repellant with at least 20% of more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin, walk in the center of trails and treat clothing with products containing permethrin – but do not apply permethrin to your skin.

Find the full list of tips for checking for, preventing and removing ticks here.