Ticks are active all year and can be found in all sorts of habitats, but this is considered tick season and DNREC is specifically cautioning people who venture into wooded areas.
Delaware launched its tick program two years ago and just announced a new informative website.
Dr. Ashley Kennedy is the state’s tick biologist and runs about 15 monitoring sites statewide, taking regular tick surveys to track species and population. She says there’s an uptick in ticks.
“If you look back at historic data from decades ago, we did not have the same diversity and abundance of ticks that we see today," said Kennedy. "So it does seem that some species are expanding their range—perhaps with climate change and land use changes, and it does seem they are growing in numbers as well.”
The Lone Star Tick is the state’s most common tick. It can transmit Erhlichiosis, Tularemia and the meat allergy known as Alpha-gal syndrome. Kennedy says that species wasn’t even in Delaware decades ago.
The black-legged tick is associated with Lyme disease. Delaware usually sees several hundred confirmed cases of Lyme disease each year, one of the highest incidence rates per capita in the country, according to the CDC.
Kenndey recommends performing regular tick checks, wearing boots and clothing that makes it more difficult for them to access your skin.
“There’s kind of this myth that they drop onto us from above like falling out of trees, but they don’t actually climb trees. They stay low to the ground and just kind of climb up on grass and other short vegetation so they can wait for us to walk by so they can grab on,” said Kennedy.
And while people tend to be most cautious in wooded or grassy areas, DNREC notes most bites occur in backyards.