Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist
We have endured a long cold spring but now the weather is finally getting warmer so it is enjoyable to be outside again. Finally, we are ready to enjoy our favorite outdoor activities. You definitely want to get outside but with the return of nice weather also come ticks. Take the proper precautions and protect yourself from these pests.
The two most common ticks in Minnesota are American dog ticks (also called wood ticks) and blacklegged ticks (formerly called deer ticks). While American dog ticks are not important vectors of disease in Minnesota, they are nuisances because they bite us (also dogs too!). Blacklegged ticks are also nuisances but they can be potentially more serious as they transmit diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesosis, and Powassan encephalitis to people in Minnesota. Of these, Lyme disease is the most common.
You are most likely going to encounter ticks in tall, grassy areas and in the undergrowth of hardwood forests so avoid those areas when possible. When you are out in areas where ticks are known to occur, one of the best methods of protecting yourself is the use of a repellent. You can apply DEET to both skin and clothes, while products containing permethrin should only be applied to clothes. It is also very important to check yourself for ticks after coming back inside. The sooner, you can find any ticks that may have crawled onto you, the sooner you can remove them, hopefully before they have started to bite you. Ticks can't transmit disease if they are not biting.