Tick season is here, and experts warn Nebraska could see more of the pests this year
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – It’s open season for ticks, meaning you’ll want to start checking yourself for the blood-sucking bugs after spending any time outdoors.
Kait Chapman, an extension entomologist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said although they can be found all year long, May and June are the peak time for ticks.
She said ticks can spread a variety of diseases, some of which are deadly.
“Here in Nebraska, we do see cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, anaplasmosis, even alpha-gal syndrome, which makes you allergic to red meat,” Chapman said.
Lyme disease is also spread by ticks, but Chapman said the black-legged tick, which transmits it, has only been seen in four Nebraska counties.
There are five common species of ticks found in Nebraska, three of which are seen in the eastern part of the state.
The American dog tick is the one you’ll find the most and is often picked up by pets.
Chapman said ticks can be found just about anywhere outside, usually latching onto clothing or soft material brushing up against plants.
If your dog or cat spends time outside, she said you should check their fur for ticks to keep them from getting bit or bringing anything indoors.
“Ticks tend to spend time in the tall grass,” she said. “Some ticks like the shaded areas; others like the sunny areas. Really the best thing you can do is after you spend time outdoors in this tick habitat is check yourself as soon as you get home.”
When checking for ticks, scan your legs and feet, as they’ll often come from the ground up.
Chapman said you should also look in your hair and all over your body, as they’re easy to miss.
“Ticks have saliva that kind of causes a numbing feeling, so a lot of people don’t realize that the ticks are on them or feeding on them,” she said. “And ticks, especially this time of year, can be really small, so a lot of times they go unnoticed.”
She recommends using bug spray with deet and wearing long sleeves or pants if you’re walking through tall grasses.
If you do find a tick attached to you or your pet’s skin, you can remove it with tweezers by grabbing the head and mouth area and pulling it out.
Experts say to never squeeze the back end of a tick because that could push disease back into the bloodstream.