It’s summer in the Pacific Northwest, and as people head outside for work and recreation, there’s something bugging them: ticks.
All species of tick need blood as part of their natural life cycle. However, only some ticks can spread diseases to humans. In Oregon, it’s the western black-legged tick, ixodes pacificus, that can spread Lyme disease.
Brooke Edmunds, a faculty member for community horticulture at Oregon State University’s extension service, said many people don’t notice they’ve been bitten because of how dramatically ticks change in size and appearance throughout their lives.
“A lot of times, folks will say they’re—you can compare them to the size of a poppy seed, so, very small—in the spring,” she said.
Edmunds recommends checking frequently for ticks when you’re outdoors, especially in more hidden places like your hair, ears, and waistband.
It’s a good idea to carry a pair of tweezers so you can remove ticks with minimal damage; many university extension services will be able to identify intact ticks, which helps you know if you’re at risk for tick-borne diseases. If you have any concerns or symptoms like a ring-shaped rash, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
For pets, there are medications on the market to prevent ticks—but none for humans yet.