ST. LOUIS — Spring is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and we’ve certainly had some great weather for that recently, but we also share the outdoors with other things like ticks. Conditions are now ripe for them to start emerging. 

“Anyone who’s gone out hiking or camping or fishing or even just walking through some grass may likely encounter them,” said Dan Zarlenga with the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

Ticks are arachnids, part of the spider family. They are found in woods and fields waiting on leaves and tall grass for their next blood meal from a host, which often can be you or your pet. 

Your best defense is clothing, preferably light in color. 

“I know it’s counterintuitive as the weather warms up, we want to go out in shorts and short sleeves and all that. But if you wear longer sleeves and longer pants, that’s going to provide an extra barrier for bugs of all kinds, including ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes from getting to your skin,” said Zarlenga. 

For bug spray, look for something with DEET. At least 10 % for children but use higher concentrations for adults.

After time outdoors check carefully for any ticks. If you find one embedded, get it out as soon as you can. These creepy crawlers can unfortunately transmit a number of diseases.  

“If you see any kind of odd rash or colorization or patterns in the area where the tick was or if there’s any kind of pain or anything like that in that area, then you probably should see a doctor as quickly as possible. The sooner you tend to any possible condition, the better off you’ll be,” Zarlenga said. 

The Department of Conservation is continuing its two-year study with A.T. Still University in Kirksville. 

“This will help give us some insight into what tick species are out there, what their distribution is, and some of the pathogens they may be carrying because we really haven’t studied it in a scientific way in the past,” he said. 

They ask that you mail in any ticks you find through September. The directions to do that can be found at https://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-still-university-ask-missourians-send-ticks-research-study