WCSU: This year worst on record for ticks

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Summer is here and so are ticks. The state’s tick population is the highest it’s been in years.

Remember when it was so warm and sunny in February that people were hanging out at the beach in West Haven? Maybe you liked, but ticks definitely liked it. See cold weather usually kills a lot of ticks. Not this year.

“During the last winter, we have received nearly 800 ticks. This is unheard of,” said Dr. Goudarz Molaei of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

In this lab at the Agricultural Experiment Station, they get ticks from municipal and regional health districts across the state. If a tick bites you, you should take it to your local health department. The local departments send the ticks to the CAES, which has already received 3,700 ticks this year, and we are only halfway through 2017. The average for the past five years is just 3,000 ticks for the whole year, so we are on track to easily double the number of ticks.

“We have not even started the peak tick activity, which is usually June and July, and then we will have another peak activity during October,” Dr. Molaei said.

In other words, his lab is going to continue to be very busy. Researchers at Western Connecticut State University are also busy. They just put out a study showing this year’s tick population is the biggest since they started looking at ticks. That has only been the past 7 years, but still, look at the numbers. The samples they have collected around Danbury show an increase in the tick population of 300% over last year, and a 1000% increase since 2014.

Those ticks also continue to love our spring weather, because of all the rain we’ve been getting.

“Wetter conditions help ticks thrive and they do much better in wet conditions, particularly this time of the year, during the spring and summer,” Molaei said.

This time of year, the ticks are in their tiny nymph stage, which even harder to spot, and they can still carry Lyme disease and other things that make us sick, so what can you do?

Related: Connecticut tick populations are at an all time high since 2011

Wear long pants and light colored clothing when you’re out in nature. You can treat your outdoor clothes with something called premethrin. It repels ticks, and stays active in your clothes through several washings.

When you get home, put your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes on high to kill any bugs hiding in there, and check your entire body for ticks. The places you least want to look, those are the places ticks like to hide. Check your kids, of course, and your pets.

You can try to stay away from places ticks live, like tall grass and woods with leaf clutter on the ground. If you are walking in the woods, try to stay in the middle of the path, and always use insect repellant to keep away the ticks with the Lyme disease, mosquitoes with West Nile. For more tips from the CDC, click here.

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