Are ticks worse this year?

 

Are ticks worse this year?

(Submitted by Donald Lewis, ISU Extension entomologist)

While everyone has an opinion about "how bad" the ticks are in any given year, the bottom line is there is no statewide survey or census to measure tick abundance.  All we have are people’s perceptions, and those vary all over the place!  That’s in part because tick populations are highly variable from place to place and from moment to moment, depending on weather and other conditions.  Experiencing a large number of ticks on you or your dog after being outdoors is largely just the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  It is our experience in talking to many callers from around the state each year that for each person who asks, “Why are there so many ticks this year?” there will be an equal number of callers who ask, “Why aren’t there so many ticks this year?”  This leads to the somewhat cynical conclusion that on a statewide basis, every year is an average year for ticks, though individual locations may be far above or far below average at the time someone was in the locale to “check” for ticks.

The answer to the question, "Are the ticks worse this year?" is — "It depends."

  How do I control ticks in my backyard and landscape?

Ticks are rarely in lawns and high-maintenance landscapes.  Instead, ticks are most abundant in humid areas of tall grass, weeds and shrubs, where there is an abundant food supply from small mammals.

For more tick control considerations, visit this website and search for ticks: www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/

  How should attached ticks be removed?

Grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible with fine-tipped tweezers and pull straight upward. Do not use nail polish, petroleum jelly, matches or cigarettes in a misguided effort to make the tick "back out" of your skin.

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