Tick Safety Isn't Just for Summer

What you need to know to stay "tick smart" all year long.

Do all ticks carry disease?

At least 14 species of tick can be found in Vermont, but only five are known to bite humans. And of those five, almost all tick-borne illness in our state is caused by just one: the blacklegged tick, commonly known as the deer tick.

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Tick - lyme disease

In a recent study, the Vermont Department of Health and Lyndon State College (now part of Northern Vermont University) tested over 2,000 blacklegged ticks to see how many were carrying infectious diseases. More than 60% of the tested ticks carried at least one pathogen, with 5% carrying two or more diseases at the same time.

Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria (pictured left), which causes Lyme disease, was present in more than half of the blacklegged ticks (pictured right) that were tested.

 

 

What time of year are blacklegged ticks active in Vermont?

Here in Vermont, blacklegged ticks are generally active from March through November, but even warmer winter days hold the potential for tick activity. That’s because blacklegged ticks don’t die in the cold, they just aren’t able to move around under freezing conditions. That means any time winter temperatures rise above freezing and the ground around them thaws, it’s possible for blacklegged ticks to become active and start to bite.

How can I stay safe from tick bites when I’m going outdoors?

To stay safe from Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses, the Vermont Dept. of Health recommends the following four steps:

  • Protect yourself from tick bites by covering up exposed skin, using EPA-approved tick repellent, and avoiding tick habitats like high grass, brushy areas, and leaf litter during outdoor recreation.
  • Check humans, pets, and outdoor gear for any “hitchhiking” ticks before going indoors.
  • Remove any ticks that you find as soon as possible.
  • Watch for symptoms of tickborne illness.

Even when tick activity is high, you can stay safe from tick-borne illnesses if you remember to Protect, Check, Remove, and Watch!

Learn more about how to “Be Tick Smart,” including proper removal and disposal techniques from the Vermont Department of Health.

Can you spot tick danger?

The five species of tick known to bite humans in Vermont are:

  • American Dog Tick
  • Blacklegged Tick
  • Lone Star Tick
  • Squirrel Tick
  • Woodchuck Tick

Squirrel tick and woodchuck tick bites are very rare in our state. Here’s how to identify the three species most likely to transmit infection:

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Tick chart