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How to Enjoy the Arb During Tick season

After a cold winter and a rainy spring, the weather is finally perfect to get out into the Arb! In these last couple of weeks, you can get out and see the wildflowers blooming, the leaves on the trees budding, the flooding Cannon River and the geese and their newborn goslings.

While all of these attractions, combined with the warm temperatures, make for the perfect opportunity to spend some time in the Arb, beware that another, less inviting creature awaits within: the tick. More specifically, the Arb is home to both deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) and wood ticks (Dermacentor viriabilis).

Deer ticks are native to the Eastern United States as well as the northern Midwest, while wood ticks are native to the entire East. Tick season in Minnesota is upon us, and peak season typically lasts from May until June. Deer ticks can be vectors of Lyme Disease, and in order to protect all Arbgoers during the peak tick season, it’s important to know how to avoid and identify ticks. First, there are some important distinctions between deer ticks and wood ticks. Wood ticks are generally much bigger and easier to spot than deer ticks, and are much more abundant in the Arb. Deer ticks are also more of a disease risk than wood ticks.

Firstly, deer ticks are often found near ground level in shady, moist places, such as in tall grass and shrubs. During tick season, try to stay on trail in the Arb to avoid crossing paths with a deer tick. Also, using insect repellent and tucking long pants into socks can keep ticks off of the skin. Another important step in avoiding ticks is to complete tick checks after spending time in the Arb. A tick must be attached for 24 hours for any disease transmission, so it is easy to avoid disease if they are removed quickly.

While ticks can be frightening, if you are prepared and know how to avoid them, you can still enjoy the beauty of the Arb all spring! Here’s a link for more information on tick safety:

— Cassie Cunniff ‘23 for the Cole Student Naturalists

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