Bug off: What to know about tick season in Louisville

Mild winters mean a longer tick season — here and across the US.

seven people walking in the woods

Perform daily checks after spending time outside, and take a shower to remove ticks before they attach.

Photo by Lennie Omalza, LOUtoday

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Exploring the great outdoors has many wonderful benefits, but one thing we can all agree isn’t one of them? Ticks.

The tiny arthropods are found all over the world. A handful of species bite and feed on the blood of people and pets. This transmits bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can lead to various illnesses like Lyme disease.

Here in Louisville, ticks are most active in the summer. But don’t let them deter you from enjoying nature. Just like brushing invasive weed seeds off your boots before and after a hike, tick preparedness is part of responsible outdoor etiquette.

What to look for

The most common ticks in Louisville are the Lone Star tick, the American Dog tick, and the Backlegged tick. The latter is the most common culprit when it comes to spreading Lyme disease, but removing a tick within 24 hours greatly reduces your chance of infection. Generally, an unfed adult tick is about the size of an apple seed.

A collage of two photos showing different tick species.

Left, an adult female western blacklegged tick; right, an adult female American dog tick.

Photos via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How to protect yourself and your pets

Ticks hang out in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas, so sticking to marked trails is key. Protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, close-toed shoes, and tucking pants into socks. You can also use repellent. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot a tick.

For pets, flea-and-tick treatments, shampoos, and special combs are available. Ask your veterinarian which is best for your furry friend and take time to thoroughly check your pet’s fur after an outing.

Even if you’re careful, a tick may still find a way to hitch a ride and get a meal. Follow these steps to get it out. Once it’s safely removed, submit it to the “Spot a Tick and Share” program.

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