Peak tick season is getting started in NH. Here are some things to know.
As New Hampshire’s weather begins to warm up, tick season is getting underway. Staying safe from their bites, and illnesses like Lyme disease, can require some precaution.
“You have to be more persistent and do your due diligence to do your tick prevention during the time when most of the ticks are out, which is now,” said Katilyn Morse, the executive director of BeBop Labs, a New Hampshire-based organization that tracks ticks and tick-borne diseases.
BeBop asks people to mail in ticks they find, which they use to study what kinds of ticks are in New Hampshire and what diseases they’re carrying. In April, the lab published its first peer-reviewed article using data from 14,252 ticks collected in the state from 2018-2021.
Almost 40% of the blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) collected by BeBop tested positive for Lyme, with smaller numbers testing positive for other illnesses like Babesia (5%), Anaplasma (6%), and Miyamotoi (1%). Only one dog tick tested positive for an illness – Tularemia.
Both blacklegged ticks and dog ticks peak in the spring and early summer, according to Morse, but people send in ticks every month of the year. And their study shows ticks are showing up in higher quantities earlier each spring.
As climate change warms up New England’s winters, ticks are becoming more active year-round.
Morse says one effective way to prevent tick-borne illnesses is by doing regular tick checks after being outdoors.
“Look for any moving freckle,” she said. “They’re that small.”
Pesticides like permethrin can be used to treat clothing, and DEET or other sprays can be used on skin. Dressing carefully – including wearing light-colored clothing you can see a tick on and tucking pants into socks – also helps. Caring for any regularly-used outdoors area (like a lawn) by making sure all the leaves are in one place, lining it with wood chips, or using “tick tubes” to kill ticks in a yard are also good prevention techniques, Morse said.
For more tick prevention tips, check out this guide from NHPR.
New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services says people who are bitten by ticks should remove them promptly with tweezers and monitor for symptoms of tick borne diseases for 30 days.
Morse says people who find a tick biting them should identify what kind of tick it is, especially because blacklegged ticks are much more likely to be carrying a disease than dog ticks.
New Hampshire’s Department of Agriculture identifies ticks for free, but does not test them for diseases. BeBop Labs tests ticks for diseases for free, but says they can’t guarantee a turnaround time for results.