December 5, 2021

Hungry ticks are waiting for you

Different types are on the radar this season

Experts are waiting for warm weather to begin tracking an insect no bigger than a pin head — the tick.

Joellen Lampman of New York State Integrated Pest Management at Cornell University said different types of ticks are on the radar screen, including one that can transmit disease within 15 minutes — much faster than the day other species require.

The Asian Longhorn tick, first discovered in 2010, has been established in Westchester and Rockland counties, Lampman said.

Another variation, the Lonestar tick, is also slowly making its way north. It’s on Long Island and has been found along the Hudson River corridor.

“We’re all waiting for tick season to start,” she said.

Don’t expect the Asian Longhorn here, yet, but one tick, however, is a constant pest is the Cortland area and one that can spread a neurological disease — the black-legged tick.

Ticks are not just a warm season insect. They can be active now, Lampman said, in temperatures as low as 37 degrees if there is no snow cover.

Monday saw a high temperature near 34 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Binghamton. But over the weekend, temperatures peaked at 63 degrees on Saturday.

Through the rest of this week and into the weekend, temperatures will range from the low 40s to the upper 50s, according to the National Weather Service.

Ticks also like humidity, but not dry, hot weather, she said.

Derek Green, a public health sanitarian with the Cortland County Health Department, is no stranger to the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick.

It wasn’t until he started using a permethrin-based insect spray on his clothing that he noticed a decrease in the number of ticks he was coming in contact with.

In 2017, he didn’t use the spray and ended the season finding 30 ticks on himself. Last year, the first year he used the spray, he found only two.

Ticks are the new normal, Lampman said; it’s part of going outside.

People need to be careful with any activity, Green said, from gardening to hiking. “Even playing in the yard with your kids,” he said.

Wear long pants tucked into the socks, Green said. A long sleeve shirt is preferred.

“The lighter the better,” Green said. It makes seeing the ticks easier.

Check for ticks every 15 minutes. “They’re pretty easy to spot,” he said about the redcolored bug.

Once finished outside, do a more thorough check in the shower. “They like hot areas,” Green said, including armpits, back of ears, groin and even the scalp.


More on ticks

Check out:
• Cornell’s website at nysipm.cornell.edu/whats-bugging-you/ticks/.
• The Cortland County Health Department site at www.cortland-co.org/486/Lyme-Disease-Other-Vector-Borne-Diseases.


Keeping pets safe is also important. Lampman said all pets should be protected by any one of the many medical products available in drops, collars and internal medications.

Lampman said pet owners should consult with their vets on the best practice. Also check the animal once it comes inside.

And now is the time ticks are active. Insects that didn’t find a host in the fall are lacking energy, Lampman said. “They’re getting desperate.”

While they are searching for more food, the tick becomes energetic and will take greater risks to get to a host.

“We find them in places they’re not normally found,” Lampman said. “Like lawns.”