MARQUETTE - Summer is finally here. While this season brings a lot to look forward to, ticks aren't one of them.
Ticks, which are part of the arachnid family, are most prevalent during the spring and early summer. The two most common in the Upper Peninsula are the American Dog Tick and the black-legged tick, also known as the Deer Tick.
And while ticks make an appearance every summer, it seems this year they are looking to take center stage.
"We've had many calls about ticks... they are especially abundant this year," said Bob Heyd, a forest health specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The late spring did delay the ticks, but Heyd said once the weather warms up, ticks can be expected. During the early to mid-summer ticks grow larger and then recede toward the end of the summer.
Ticks can be found in tall grassland settings, in the woods and places of heavy moisture. Heyd noted that in the early 80s people seldom saw ticks in the U.P. Over the years, cases of ticks have increased both in the U.P. and downstate. He added that they frequently find ticks in new places.
Ticks latch on to any moving animals, including humans. Although they are considered more of a pest than anything, ticks can become a concern due to their association with Lyme Disease.
"Many times they (ticks) will wander before they feed, but if it has fed or engorged, you need to get checked out and possibly get an antibiotic," Heyd explained.
Some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are chills and fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain or a skin rash called erytherma migrans.
To avoid the chance of developing Lyme Disease, Heyd offered tips to help outdoor enthusiasts avoid being a host for ticks:
- Wear long clothing when in grassland settings. Those who are concerned can also tuck pants into socks.
- Use adequate insect repellant and remember to spray shoes and socks with repellant.
- Check body and clothing after coming out of the woods and make sure to shower after being outdoors.
- If a tick has begun to feed, do not squeeze it and try to remove, as this can eject whatever fluids are in the tick, into an individual's body.
- To remove a tick, use tweezers and grab as close to the skin as possible. Gently tug and pull until the tick is removed.
Pets should also be checked after being in the woods and if a tick is feeding, the same removal tips should be applied.
"If it hasn't fed, chances are you won't have much of a problem," Heyd said.
He added that although it is good to be aware of ticks, it shouldn't stop anyone from enjoying the outdoors.
To learn more about ticks, visit the Marquette County Health Department website at www.mqthealth.org.
Abbey Hauswirth can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.