The warm weather and green up in North Dakota are driving those with cabin fever to get outside. This time of year, it’s important to be on the lookout for ticks and the many diseases they carry.
The green grass and warm weather can be very inviting come springtime, however, Tyler Kralicek from the Extension Center in Burleigh County said, “When you get grass green up, and it’s really starting to take off is about the time when you start to see ticks really start to come out and be in full force.”
Some parts of the country have recently seen a huge rise in tick populations. North Dakota, specifically, is starting to see a rise in deer tick populations.
Michelle Dethloff from the North Dakota Department of Health said, “Previously there hasn’t been many established populations of those ticks in North Dakota, but we are starting to see that emerge.”
She said these ticks become infected by feeding off of small mammals and then passing the disease on to humans. Spotting these ticks can be easier said than done.
Dethloff said, “The deer tick could be as small as a poppy seed if you can think about how small that is. They are really hard to identify.”
Kralicek said, “They’re creative insects or bugs, and they’re gonna try and do whatever they can to survive. Anything that they can do to get their production up, they’re going to try and do.”
However, the drought may provide a little relief. Dethloff said, “As it does dry out and get warmer, there will be less, but they are definitely still out there.”
So what should you do if you find a tick on you?
Kralicek said, “Easiest thing to do is, once you locate it, get a tweezer and pull directly straight up and hopefully you don’t have a piece of its sucking part stay within you, because that’s where you can run into some issues.”
Some old tricks aren’t quite as effective as we would think.
Dethloff said, “Some folklore out there that says a hot match, or like vaseline, nail polish, things like that will cause a tick to back out, and those aren’t correct.”
What are some prevention measures you can take?
Kralicek said, “Making sure that you’re checking yourself every few hours. One thing you can also do from a preventative aspect is do some different sprays.”
Dethloff said, “As the weather permits, wearing protective clothing like light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants is helpful. And I say light-colored because then it’s easier for you to identify the tick when it’s crawling on you.”