Safety: Lyme disease


Do not try to pull a tick off with your fingers as this may cause the tick to inject bacteria into your body. Contact your physician if any symptoms of Lyme disease occur, especially if you know you've been bitten by a tick or live in an endemic area.

The risk of contracting a tick-borne disease can be reduced substantially by understanding the ecology and environmental needs of ticks Although factors over which we have no control (weather, daily temperature, length of daylight, etc.) affect tick activity there are a number of measures one can take to avoid coming into contact with ticks. This guide focuses primarily on Ixodes scapularis (commonly known as the black-legged or deer tick), which carries Lyme disease in the east and upper midwest. However, the guidelines presented below should help reduce the abundance of most species of ticks found in your area.

Ticks are parasites and require a blood meal during each active stage (larva. nymph, adult) of their life cycle. In the northeast and upper mid-west, deer ticks usually mate in the fall or early spring. The fully engorged (i.e., full of blood) female drops off her host and lives in leaf litter or other protected areas until she lays her minute eggs (up to 3,000 at one time) in late spring. The eggs hatch into six-legged larvae which are extremely small (about the size of a sand grain) and require high humidity to survive. Larvae, very rarely infected, remain on the ground and seek a host, usually the white-footed mouse or other small mammal. If their host is infected with the bacterium (

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