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Talk to a University of Michigan expert about ticks

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Q: Will there be a lot of ticks this year?

2021 is likely to be a bad year for ticks, but this can change due to the continued dry weather. Many adult deer ticks were active in early spring, which may correspond to the high activity of very small immature ticks.

Dry weather and drought conditions, on the other hand, limit tick activity, especially reducing the number of deer ticks. In some states with very dry seasons, ticks may be low later this year.

Q: What are the most common types of mites in Minnesota?

Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and American dog ticks (“tree ticks”, Dermacentor variabilis) are common in Minnesota and both often bite people and pets. Both species can carry the disease, but are more concerned because the deer ticks are often infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Q: Where are the most prevalent mites?

Deer ticks are most common in forest areas because they require humid areas such as forest foliage layers.

Deer ticks are widespread and becoming more common. They are now found in all forested counties in the state.

Even in grasslands, deer carry deer mites to forested habitats. Therefore, you should be aware of mites after visiting the Minnesota woodlands.

Adult deer ticks are active in spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) when temperatures are above freezing and there is no snow. Immature larvae are considered to be at high risk of disease because they are small and difficult to notice. As a result, the larvae often remain attached and feed longer. They are primarily active in Minnesota from May to July.

Q: How can I prevent ticks?

Tick-borne diseases are easier to prevent than to cure. Insect repellents, including DEET, are also effective in repelling ticks. If you spend a lot of time in your mite habitat, it may be worth treating your clothes with permethrin, a repellent / pesticide that works against mites. Bacteria that cause Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases usually take several hours after the ticks attach to the food and enter the body. Checking for ticks daily can greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease, even if you are bitten.

If you find a tick biting you, use tweezers to grab the part of the mouth where the tick has entered the skin. Pull out the tick straight. Avoid crushing your body. After being bitten by a tick, be aware of your physical health. If you experience symptoms such as a rash or flu, see your doctor and tell them that you have been bitten by a tick.

Q: What are you doing to advance your research on mites?

With the goal of improving human health and reducing human exposure to tick-borne diseases, my research focuses on the interaction of mites with the bacteria they carry, and the distribution of mites in the upper Midwestern landscape. I’m guessing.

New pathogens are found relatively frequently in Minnesota deer ticks, and our lab is working to determine how and where new diseases occur. Mites also have a diverse and diverse microbiota, including both symbiotic bacteria that help mites and pathogens that cause disease. How pathogens and symbiotic organisms interact and how these bacteria affect the viability and spread of ticks is an open question we are trying to answer. In the future, scientists may be able to manipulate mites to limit their ability to spread to new locations and carry and transmit pathogens such as the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

John Oliver is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. His areas of expertise include vector-borne diseases, infectious diseases, mites, mosquitoes and Lyme disease.

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