ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A sign of summer will have you checking your skin after hike in the woods.
June is the peak season for ticks. Several states out east are forecasting high populations of the insect.
How prevalent will ticks be this year in Minnesota? And how are they counted? Good Question. Jeff Wagner explains what to look out for and how to protect yourself.
If your hobby involves a hike through nature, such a disc golf, caution is key.
When asked if he’s ever found a tick on him after a playing a round, Michael Stromberg quickly said, “Oh yeah, absolutely. All the time.”
“I have had a wood tick bite,” added Steve Schultz about his experience on a wooded course.
“If I know I’m going to be probably trudging through the rough a bit for my discs, I try and wear layers,” said Stromberg.
Exercising caution is exactly what Janet Jarnefeld hopes people will do when outdoors. She specializes in tick vector services for the Metro Mosquito Control District.
What is the tick forecast for Minnesota?
“Minnesota is different than what you may be hearing from the eastern United States,” she said.
In states like New York and Michigan, experts are anticipating a jump in the tick population. But Jarnefeld says that’s not the case here.
“I’m comparing what I know about the reports that I’m hearing from this year compared with the last 30 years. So it’s appearing to me that the numbers are a little bit lower (than average),” she said.
How is the number of ticks measured?
“We have traps we set out across the seven-county metro, and we collect mice and other small mammals and then remove the ticks from them,” she said, with the number of ticks found being compared to 30 years of data.
Do all ticks carry Lyme Disease? Not all of them, said Jarnefeld. Wood ticks are the most prevalent in Minnesota and don’t carry Lyme disease.
The Deer Tick, which is smaller, does carry it.
“Wood ticks can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which we do see a few cases now and again,” she said.
The easiest way to avoid ticks when on a hike is to stay on a path. If you want to go for a true hike, even through a grassy area, you want to dress properly. That includes pants and high socks. A hat and long sleeves also help. If you do want to use insect repellent, make sure it has permethrin in it instead of just DEET.
“Spray that product on your clothing and let it dry. You can also buy clothing I believe that has permethrin in it,” said Jarnefeld.
MMCD is keeping an eye out for two more species of ticks. The Lone Star Tick has made appearances in Minnesota in the past.
“They haven’t established here but their range is moving closer to our area,” she said, noting it’s most often seen south of Minnesota.
The Asian Longhorn Tick is one MMCD hopes will not make it into the state. Jarnefeld said a female can produce eggs without a mate, as well as the ability to transmit a large quantity of tick-borne illnesses.
If you’ve been out hiking, experts say to check your legs, groin area, as well as your hair for ticks. If one has bit you, tweezers are the best way to safely remove them.
Source: CBS Minnesota