AMES, Iowa -- You may not see them, but millions of blood-thirsty creatures are lurking in the tall grass and brush around Iowa. They spend their days waiting to ambush an unsuspecting animal, grab on and take their next meal. They are ticks.
Lyric Bartholomay, assistant professor, Iowa State University (ISU) Department of Entomology, directs the Iowa Lyme Disease Surveillance Program (LDSP), an operation that will gladly accept your tick and let you know what species you've found. So far this year, the LDSP staff members have received hundreds of tick submissions and they're hoping to see many more.
Most people who send in a tick want to know if theirs is the dreaded blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, formerly known as the deer tick. This spider-like creature, sometimes no bigger than the head of a pin, can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Forty percent of the ticks sent to the LDSP this year have been blacklegged ticks. For more information on the ticks collected this year, see http://www.ent.iastate.edu/medent/ticksurvey2007.
Bartholomay, along with Jon Oliver, graduate student, Department of Entomology , Ken Holscher, associate professor, Department of Entomology, and Joel Hutcheson, entomologist, USDA, used the information from 17 years of LDSP tick surveillance to write Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases in Iowa.
The goal of this publication is to help Iowans better understand what types of ticks and tick-transmitted diseases are present in the state. The publication offers information on the three most common ticks found in Iowa, the time of year they are active and the types of disease that ticks can transmit to humans and animals. Plus, it offers advice on how to avoid getting a tick bite and how to effectively remove a tick, if one should attach itself to you or your pet.
Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases in Iowa (PM 2036) is available through any ISU Extension County office, online at
https://www.extension.iastate.edu/store/ or through the ISU Extension Distribution Center at (515) 294-5247. To view it online, just go to the link above and enter "PM 2036" in the "Search" box in the upper right corner of the page and click on the "Find" button. The entry for that publication will appear and you can either order copies or download the electronic (pdf) version.