Adult blacklegged ticks seek hosts from November through March. They are active whenever the temperature is above about 40oF. Females (Figure 1) take blood meals from a variety of hosts, including humans and companion animals.
Blacklegged ticks have been noticeably active in Kentucky since 2011. We generally do not think of winter as tick season, but this is no longer the case over much of Kentucky (see Figure 2).
While encounters with blacklegged ticks are still relatively low, it is important to watch for them when hiking and working outdoors. Include “tick checks” when monitoring animal health and handling pets. Ticks tend to attach where the hair coat is thin and in areas that an animal cannot groom effectively.
Remove any attached ticks carefully as follows:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove mouthparts carefully with tweezers. If mouthparts cannot be removed easily with clean tweezers, leave them alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist