By Rachel Lane
Experts say this year’s mild winter allowed more ticks to survive. Ticks are a growing problem in northern Michigan where the population of blacklegged ticks has been expanding over the last five years. Blacklegged ticks, commonly referred to as deer ticks, can transmit Lyme disease.
Erik Foster, an entomologist with the Michigan Department of Community Health, says because the winter was so mild, more mice and chipmunks survived. Those animals are hosts for ticks. That means more ticks made it through the winter too.
Foster says ticks are doing especially well along Lake Michigan.
“These ticks like sandy soils. They like deciduous forest.”
Foster says the tick population has been moving north along the shoreline on hosts like deer. He thinks birds might also be transporting ticks.
Foster recommends wearing clothing that is tick-repellant and checking your family and yourself for ticks after you walk in the woods or in tall grass.