Washington County Public Health and Environment staff is available to assist with questions regarding tick safety and the prevention of tickborne disease. 

If your organization has questions or is interested in being added to our annual distribution list, contact us at 651-430-6655 or PHE@co.washington.mn.us.

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  1. What are Ticks
  2. Tickborne Disease Overview
  3. Tick Bite Prevention
  4. Tick Checks and Removal

Tick2Ticks are small bugs that belong to the spider family. They crawl on the ground and feed on the blood of animals. They usually live in places with trees and bushes, which provide food and shelter for the animals they feed on, such as deer and small mammals. Unlike some insects, ticks don't jump or fly. Instead, they crawl on surfaces and attach themselves to people or animals that come into contact with vegetation. Ticks can be found at any time of the year, but they are most active between March and October.

In Minnesota, the two most common types of ticks are the Blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) and the American dog tick (also known as the wood tick). However, other tick species are starting to move into areas where they were not typically found before. One example is the Lone Star tick, which is usually found in the southwest part of the United States. Recently, the Lone Star tick population is increasing in Minnesota as well.

Young ticks, called nymphs, are the size of a freckle or speck of dirt. Adult deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed. Most ticks follow the same life cycle and feeding pattern:

  • Larvae: A deer tick starts as a 6-legged larva, which does not transmit disease.
  • Nymph: Most cases of tick-borne disease are caused by the nymph, which looks like a freckle or speck of dirt. The nymph feeds from May through July.
  • Adult: The larger adult ticks feed in fall and early spring, and are easier to see and remove. After feeding on deer, the female lays her eggs, which hatch into larvae in May and June. 

Ticks can carry and transmit diseases that can be dangerous to humans and animals. Any species of tick can potentially transmit disease; therefore it is important to remove a tick as soon as possible so it doesn’t cause infection. 

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