Encounters with adult blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) (Figure 1) have increased in Kentucky over the past 2 years.
This is apparently due to an increase in numbers of this species in the state and perhaps a widening of its distribution (Figure 2). Most recently it was reported from Crittenden County by Chad Brothers (KDF).
Adults are active from November through March, a time that our common ticks (American dog tick and lone star tick) are not moving. This species is the vector of Lyme disease. Fortunately, the incidence of this disease is very low in Kentucky (Figure 3).
Watch for this tick while outdoors during winter and report findings to your local Cooperative Extension office. It is important to keep up with the population due to its potential public health risk. Blacklegged tick adults can be found on people, pets, and wildlife during winter. Repellents containing DEET or picaridin can be applied to the skin; clothing treatments of permethrin also are available.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist