LANSING, Mich. — As the weather warms up here in Mid-Michigan, you’re probably spending more time outside.
Some entomologists say you need to keep your eyes peeled for a certain pest this summer.
Michigan’s tick population is surging, something Michigan State University’s self-appointed “bug man” Howard Russell says wasn’t always the case.
“They were fairly rare in the lower peninsula, but they were very common in the upper peninsula,” said Russell, an entomologist with MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. “Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen a gradual increase in numbers to the point now where I get emails and phone calls from people from all over the southern part of the state wanting to know what they can do about ticks.”
There are two types of ticks commonly found in Michigan, the American Dog Tick and the Deer Tick, which carries a bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
Deer Tick/ Black-Legged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)
- Can spread potentially deadly Lyme disease
- Found most commonly on the western side of the state
- Often Found on forest vegetation, and along trails
American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
- The most common tick in Michigan
- Have white markings on their backs that should be visible
- Can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and a few other tick-borne diseases
- Active from early May–November
- Will bite humans and pets
Ingham, Eaton and Jackson County are just a few throughout the state with a known risk for Lyme disease, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Dorothy Leland is the vice president of Lymedisease.org, an advocacy organization. She said Lyme disease can have serious side effects.
“It can spread to your head. It can spread to your heart. It can affect your digestion. It can give you arthritis in your joints. It really can cause all kinds of problems,” she said.
Leland said Lyme disease’s flu like symptoms can be mistaken for another illness.
“One fellow we talked to had three negative COVID tests before somebody finally said maybe it’s something else,” she said.
That’s why Russell is urging people to be alert this summer.
“It takes up to 48 hours for the pathogen in the Deer Tick to move through its body and out its mouthparts and into us, so removing ticks quickly after they’ve been attached is a good way to avoid tick-borne disease,” he said.
Russell encourages people to use insect repellent with DEET as an active ingredient as an effective way to avoid ticks.
More information on tick safety can be found here.
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