As you explore our local nature trails and enjoy our local parks, we want you to remember that ticks, while more prolific in the summer, are a nuisance all year long. Lyme Disease is caused by Borrelia burgodorferi, a bacteria transmitted to humans through tick bites. In Chemung County and surrounding areas, as many as half of ticks tested will test positive for Lyme Disease.
There are all sorts of ticks in our area, and a great resource to identify them is this handy-dandy tick guide from TickEncounter. Ticks are very small arachnids, in the same family as mites. They feed on blood and there are several kinds, including deer ticks (also called blacklegged ticks) and dog ticks. In our area, Lyme disease is spread by the deer tick. Unfortunately, the incidence of Lyme Disease has been increasing every year. Check out this NPR article for information about the spread of Lyme in our part of the country and some handy tips on what you can do to avoid Lyme.
Each time you return from a trip outdoors, check yourself for ticks. Deer ticks are VERY small. If you find a tick on your body, you need to remove it. If it's biting you, use tweezers to grab the tick by the mouth and pull the mouthparts out of your skin. Pull the tick up and away from you. When the tick is removed, disinfect the bite with soap and water, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Make a note of the day of the tick bite, because if you get a rash or flu-like symptoms, you'll want to see a doctor right away and let them know when your tick bite occurred. You can download the NYSDoH guide to removing a tick here
Fun fact time! The majority of ticks are infected with Lyme Disease by mice. Yes, mice manage to infect up to 95% of ticks that bite them! Read more about it here.
For more information about ticks and other pests, please visit Pests.org, a website that has fantastic guides and resources for learning everything you need to know about our local creepy-crawlies.