Thirty ticks so far this year — that’s the number of the little pests that Derek Green said he has already found crawling on him.
Green, an employee with the Cortland County Department of Environmental Health, said this year will be a banner year for the bug. Green said he spends a lot of time at Lime Hollow Nature Center, where most of the ticks crawling on him were picked up.
After being out in the field he goes home to shower.
This year, the deer tick is the great concern, said Glenn Reisweber, executive director of Lime Hollow. While people should be aware of the ticks, they shouldn’t be scared. “It’s about education,” Reisweber said. “The last thing we want is people to stay inside because it’s safer.”
An uptick in ticks is becoming a trend in the Northeast, Reisweber said. And while people think they can’t get a tick in the winter, think again. “Every season is tick season,” Reisweber said.
People also don’t have to venture into the woods to find a tick crawling along their arm or leg — it can happen in their own backyard, Reisweber said. The arachnids, about the size of a poppy seed, or really small, can be present wherever there is a high population of deer or white-footed deer mice.
Ticks have a four-stage life cycle, beginning with the egg and proceeding to a larva, nymph and adult stage.
While walking along a path at Lime Hollow, Reisweber approached some tall weeds along the edge of the path. Pointing to some leaves, Reisweber said ticks could be there. “Ticks don’t jump,” Reisweber said.
A person needs to come in contact with a tick or where they are for the bug to cling. To reduce the chance of finding the pest on the body, Reisweber suggested sticking to pathways and trails and not entering thick brush.
People can also spray their clothing with insect repellent to ward off ticks. It also helps to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts that are brightly colored, Reisweber said.
To prevent a tick from embedding and potentially passing Lyme disease, there is one thing a person can do, a tick check.
Reisweber said people should remove and shake clothing, and then run their hands down their body, starting with the tops of the head. If a tick has begun to embed in the person’s skin, the person will feel a bump or a notch, he said.
If a tick has embedded, don’t worry. Removal is not painful, Reisweber said. “Get yourself a good set of tweezers.”
The tweezers should be high grade with a chiseled point. Next move the tweezers in to the tick from the side and pull the tick straight out, Reisweber said. It’s recommended to seek medical attention after.
“People shouldn’t be afraid, just more vigilant,” Reisweber said. “This is the new normal.”