Headlines making the rounds on social media warn of a catastrophic year for deer ticks and Lyme disease in the Eastern U.S. Stories refer to tick ‘warzones’ and say the risk of Lyme will be at an all-time high.
10News set out to verify: Will it be a bad year for ticks in East Tennessee?
The VERIFY team took this question to the the predominant tick expert in East Tennessee: Dr. Graham Hickling at the University of Tennessee. Hickling has studied ticks for years, even partnering with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the East Tennessee Regional Health Department.
He said it’s a tough question to answer because several types of ticks live in East Tennessee, with different life cycles and different diseases.
READ MORE: Officials warn of tick-borne illnesses
Hickling uses a ‘drag cloth’ to collect ticks. It’s a swatch of fabric he drags through the woods to collect the creature, which are fooled into thinking it's a passing animal.
“We use it to determine the abundance and activity of ticks at different times of year,” he said.
Hickling said he used it just last weekend – as tick populations begin to balloon with spring weather.