April through October are months when people venture outside for both work and recreation. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when ticks are most active. We tend to associate Lyme Disease with ticks because there has been so much media coverage about it. However, it is important to remember that all ticks can be carriers of diseases which can impact humans, so taking precautions and being proactive is always the best choice.

Tick Tips to Protect Yourself

Before you leave for your excursion:

Wear light clothing.

Spray your shoes with tick repellent. This is your first line of defense to stop and kill ticks as they crawl up from the ground.

Spray the insides surfaces of pants (8-10 inches from the bottom) and shorts with repellent to kill ticks that crawl up the inside of your clothing.

Pull your socks over the bottom of your pants.

Walk in the center of any trails you use.


When you return:

Remove your clothes and place them into a hot dryer for 10 minutes, wash them and dry again. Heat kills most ticks, water doesn’t.

Tick Removal


Use fine-tipped tweezers or a gloved/covered hand to grasp the tick as close to the skin’ surface as possible.

Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. If the mouthparts remain in the skin, and you are unable to easily remove them with tweezers, leave them 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.

Put the tick in a dry jar or Ziploc bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if needed.

If you can’t remover the tick, call your doctor.

If you develop any symptoms of infection or illnesses related to tick bite, call your doctor.


Tick Identification

The Black-legged (deer) Tick (Ixodes scapularis) and American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) are both commonly found in New England. Deer ticks are associated with Babesiosis, Ehrlichsiosis and Lyme Disease. Dog ticks are associated with Ehrlichsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. Although unengorged deer ticks are usually smaller than dog ticks, positive identification cannot be determined by size alone. However, a magnifying glass is required to obtain accurate information.

After you have removed the tick using the procedure above, attach it to a piece of white paper and cover with a piece of clear tape. Use a magnifying glass to check for these additional characteristics: Mouthparts: The Am. Dog tick has shorter, more rounded ones. The deer tick has longer, narrower ones by comparison. Scutum/Shield pattern on the top of tick: Deer ticks have solid brown/ black ones. Dog ticks have a patterned one. In males, the shield covers nearly the entire top of the tick. In females, it doesn’t. Festoons: (small areas separated by short grooves on the back margin of the tick) Dog ticks have them, deer ticks don’t.

Life Cycle of the Black-legged (deer) Tick

Larval deer ticks are active in August and September and have 6 legs. Because they haven’t eaten yet, they are pathogen free. Larva become nymphal deer ticks after they’ve eaten. They have 8 legs and are active from May through July, which is when most cases of Lyme disease are transmitted. Adult stage deer ticks become active in October and remain active through the winter where the ground is not frozen. Eggs laid in May, hatch in July and the cycle begins again.