In Your Backyard: Preventing Tick Bites

Wood tick crawling on a blade of grass.

By Bryn Scriver, Lakeshore Nature Preserve Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

It’s summer in Wisconsin! That means it’s a great time to explore the many parks and natural areas in and around Madison, including the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. It also means we need to take precautions against tick bites which can cause illness. In Wisconsin, the most common illness spread by ticks is Lyme disease. Take note, not every tick bite will result in illness, but it is important to stay aware of ticks and to prevent tick bites.

The most commonly encountered ticks in Wisconsin for tick-borne diseases are the blacklegged tick (deer tick) and the American dog tick (wood tick). They usually feed on small mammals, birds, and deer by biting into the skin for a blood meal. Unfortunately they will feed on humans too. Once attached to a host they can feed for 3-5 days before falling off.

The best way to avoid getting sick from a tick bite is to prevent bites in the first place. When you spend time outdoors wear appropriate clothing, use insect repellent, and do a careful tick check. For more information, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/tick/bite-prevention.htm

Also, check out the UW Department of Entomology webpage on tick identification.