Deer ticks, other species looking for blood in New Jersey

Ticks never really go away in the Garden State. But this time of year begins a period of months where residents should be very careful.

According to Dina Fonseca, professor of entomology and director of Rutgers University’s Center for Vector Biology, each of the “big four” ticks are either fairly active right now in New Jersey or on the verge of being.

From spring through summer, ticks are in the nymph stage, which means they are extremely small and less likely to be detected by humans who enjoy the warmer weather while wearing less clothing than in cooler months. colder.

“Even if you’re careful to check for ticks, you might miss a nymph,” Fonseca said.

Although it’s not the most abundant in the Garden State, New Jersey residents should be most concerned about the blacklegged (deer) tick, according to Fonseca. That’s because it’s the only tick in New Jersey that carries the threat of Lyme disease, and it’s the most likely to bite humans.

Each year, thousands of probable and confirmed cases of Lyme are reported in the Garden State.

“We currently have very large tick populations in New Jersey because we have a lot of deer and we have a lot of habitat,” Fonseca said.

Fonseca said other common ticks found in New Jersey include the Lone Star tick, which is described by federal authorities as an aggressive tick that bites humans; the Asian long-horned tick, which has been spotted in several New Jersey counties over the past decade but apparently isn’t interested in biting people; and the American dog tick, which has not been shown to be infected with pathogens that can harm humans, but can cause disease in dogs.

According to Fonseca, New Jersey has very little information on a number of tick species that live in New Jersey.

In May, as part of National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, the Center for Vector Biology will launch a “citizen science” project that aims to better control the abundance of ticks in New Jersey. Through this, residents would submit samples or photos of ticks, so they can be identified and help researchers better understand the distribution of ticks in the state.

The New Jersey Department of Health offers the following tips for avoiding a bite from an infected tick:

Avoid wooded areas with dense shrubs and leaf litter, where ticks like to hide.
Make your garden less attractive to ticks by mowing lawns and trimming trees.
Wear plain, light-colored clothing. This will make it easier for you to find a tick on your clothes.
Tuck your pants into your socks and wear a long-sleeved shirt. This will help prevent a tick to attach to your skin.
Use insect repellents on yourself and your pets. Repellents containing DEET can be used on clothing and exposed skin. The other kind repellent contains permethrin and should only be used on clothing.
Check frequently for ticks when in tick-infested areas. Check again after back and again before going to bed. Don’t overlook some of ticks’ favorite hiding places – on the scalp, behind the ears, under the arms, on the ankles and in the groin.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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