Big Increase in Ticks Locally

Posted at: 06/11/2013 6:40 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- They're a normal part of a Minnesota summer, but this year there will be even more of them, and you can blame the wet spring.

And we're not talking about mosquitoes.

"I may still have more ticks on me, I'm not sure," said Hormel Nature Center Director Larry Dolphin.

Dry weather likely held down the number of ticks in Minnesota last year. This year is a different story.

"They seem to be more prevalent in part because it's been so wet we haven't been able to mow some of our trails," the nature center’s Larry Dolphin told us.

"It doesn't matter if you're on or off, they can still get on you," added nature photographer John Duren.

“The ticks we have here are wood ticks” Larry Dolphin explained. “I haven't seen a deer tick here yet, but they may be coming. There are ticks just east of here."

It's the deer ticks ... also called black legged ticks ... that carry lyme disease. Historically there have been two deer-tick hot-spots in the US. One is in the north east ... the other is right here. From 1996 to 2012 there were nearly 13,000 cases of lyme disease in Minnesota.

"I would wear long pants when i go out, cover most of your body," said photographer John Duren, who has spent more than his  share of time in tick territory, documenting area wetlands.

And if you venture into tick habitat: "Be sure to check yourself pretty thoroughly," John Duren said. “They can get in places, behind the ear, behind your legs, you might not think to look at."

And use a bug repellant with up to 30 percent DEET.

"They latch on and burrow in both, so it's ideal if you can find them when they're still crawling on you," Larry Dolphin told us. And if you're feeling a creepy, tickling sensation on the back of your neck right now:

"It's called the heeby-jeebies,” Larry Dolphin explained. “You start to feel a lot more on you than is really there. But that’s okay, you should still check."