How to avoid ticks, Lyme disease in Michigan

Ticks can be an annoying part of life for outdoor enthusiasts and pet lovers who routinely hit wooded trails or places with grassy fields. And if you’re like many of us, finding a little tick crawling on your pant leg or bare skin can creep you out. But the bite of some ticks can be dangerous, carrying the potential for Lyme disease. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself and your pets from ticks.

If you’re seeing more ticks near your home, you’re not alone. Michigan has experienced a “tick explosion” in recent years, according to researchers at Michigan State University. This includes a big increase in dog ticks and deer ticks – also called black-legged ticks – which can carry Lyme disease.

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Ticks found in the home of Howard Russell, MSU entimoligist

We’ve pulled together a short list of what you need to know about ticks in Michigan, and how to make sure you’re protected. For a complete overview, watch the video above.

When ticks can find you: Ticks are most active in Michigan from April through September.

What kind of tick to worry about: All ticks can carry disease to pets and humans. But it’s the deer / black-legged ticks that can transmit Lyme disease. These account for about 20% of the ticks found in Michigan. They are found in both the Upper and Lower peninsulas.

How to avoid tick-friendly areas when you are outside:

  • Stick to well-groomed trails
  • Avoid tall grass areas
  • Avoid areas with leaf-covered ground, where ticks like to hide
  • Use EPA-approved insect repellent, including types containing DEET. These can be applied to your clothing and your skin.

Protect your dogs: Have pets? Talk to your vet about tick prevention. It can be given separately or bundled into monthly heartworm prevention.

Tick ​​checks: Check yourself – and your pets – for ticks regularly after you’ve been outside or on a walk or hike. On people, they like to hide near the hairline, ears, neck, under arms or around the groin.

RELATED: Why you can expect more ticks this summer in Michigan

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