It's Tick Season in Michigan -- Don't Let Them Get Under Your Skin

Tracy Stengel
Photo byErik Karitas/Unsplash

As the weather warms in Michigan, more people head outside to do lawn work, hike, mushroom hunt, and participate in recreational activities. While you are enjoying the great outdoors, don’t let ticks suck the fun out of your day.

Ticks are close relatives of spiders and insects. Michigan is home to over 20 different tick species. Not all ticks bite and not all carry diseases, but some Michigan ticks are known to bite people and pets and some carry Lyme disease. Tick-borne diseases can be serious or deadly if not treated properly.

The most common tick in Michigan is the American dog tick (wood tick) and accounts for about 70% of the ticks in Michigan. They are large and brown with white markings. The adult American dog tick, active from April — July that will bite humans and pets. They may carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.

The second most common tick in the Great Lake State is the blacklegged tick (deer tick.) It accounts for about 20% of the ticks in Michigan. It is small with a round, black shield behind its head and black legs. This is the tick that may carry Lyme disease. It can transmit diseases in both its nymph stage and its adult stage.

Don’t let fear of ticks keep you indoors. There are measures you can take to protect your family and your pets.

“Preventing tick bites is the best way to prevent tick-borne diseases,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services chief medical executive. “Michigan residents who find a tick attached to their body should promptly remove it and monitor their health. If they begin to experience fever, rash, muscle or joint aches or other symptoms, they should consult a medical provider.”

Try to avoid areas ticks love to hang out like forests and grassy areas. When hiking, stay on the middle of the trail. Wear EPA-approved insect repellent that repels ticks and don’t forget to protect your pet with a tick and flea preventative recommended by your veterinarian.

You probably won’t feel a tick bite. Signs and symptoms might not show up for weeks.

Upon coming indoors after being in the woods or grassy areas it’s a good idea to do a complete tick check on yourself and animals. Pay careful attention to your hairlines, ears, and groin areas. Take a bath or shower and wash clothes in hot water and dry on hot heat to avoid carrying ticks into your home.

If you find a tick, use tweezers and grasp the tick firmly. Try to get as close to the skin as possible and, with a steady hand, pull the tick straight up from the skin. Use an antiseptic like rubbing alcohol to cleanse the area.

You can reduce ticks in your yard by keeping your grass mowed and free of dead leaves, brush, and weeds. Don’t have your children’s play area near the edge of a woodland. Move sandboxes and swing sets into a sunny area. Ticks need moist, shady areas to live. Try and keep your dogs and cats out of forests and areas with tall grasses.

Do you have tips to keep yourself and your pets safe from ticks? I’d love to read your advice in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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