More ticks this spring after a cold winter

The cold winter took out some insects this year, but not ticks. In East Tennessee, experts confirm what many already believed: we're seeing more ticks this spring.

The lone star tick and the American dog tick are the two types of ticks most commonly found this time of the year.

These ticks can carry diseases that are harmful to your pets and you. There could be fatal consequences if not treated.

Entomologists with the UT Extension say prevention is the current answer to this problem.

An abnormally cold winter kept everyone indoors, including the ticks.

"They didn't come out at that time, so the populations are probably still the same, but are all coming out at once. So now it's more of a numbers game. Where we didn't see them all spread out, but we see them all coming out at once," said Medical Entomologist Becky Trout Fryxell.

It's causing an overabundance of ticks for early spring, and they are latching onto wildlife and pets.

"If you think it is a tick, make sure it is a tick. Don't try and pull a mole. People have actually tried to pull an animal's nipples off thinking they were ticks. So how do you tell if it is a tick? You look for legs," said Assistant Professor of Parasitology Dr. Rick Gerhold.

Fryxell said ticks can latch on to a host body like a pet or even a person. And your backyard can be a welcoming area for the insects.

"Depending on the habitat you have in your yard, they can be there. They can be brought in on something else. If you have white tail deer running through your yard, you could easily have a high tick population," said Trout Fryxell.

Sometimes they can even find their way into the house.

"In the case of the American dog tick, it will get on your household pets. A lot of people will sleep with their dogs, or at least have your dogs up on the furniture and that. These ticks will bite them, after being on the dog," said research specialist Brian Hendricks.

But there are steps to take that lower the chance of a tick bite. From certain bug sprays to what you are wearing.

Gerhold said to ask your veteranarian about a good tick preventative or repellent to use on your pets.

"Some people think of the outdoors being a bad place, and it's not a bad place. It's really important for us, for our mental health and physical health. It's just a few simple preventatives can be used to just keep yourself safe from ticks and tickborn diseases," said Gerhold.

Gerhold recommends you check your dogs and cats once a day. Brush against the fur to get a better look. And he says if you find one, pull it off slowly applying pressure. If you move too quickly, you may pull the body of the tick off leaving the head bitten down.


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