DETROIT – Weather conditions during summer in Michigan have a big impact on mosquitoes and ticks.
The pests are not just annoying. They number of serious diseases being spread by mosquitoes and ticks has risen dramatically over the years, making it more important than ever to protest yourself.
"This year, and really the last few years, we're seeing a lot more complaints of tick bites. People are finding ticks either embedded in their skin or just on their clothing," said Dr. Timothy O'Neill.
At his offices in Clarkston, Dr. O'Neill has not doubt ticks are on the rise in Michigan.
"It's come to the point that probably two or three times a week we are getting request, and I expect that to increase as the summer goes on," he said.
Tick found crawling in bed
Brandon Crawford was shocked to find a tick crawling in his bed.
"I rolled over and felt a little tickle on my side. And I reached over and kind of brushed at and it came off," he said.
The before he had gone to visit his uncle in Macomb County.
"We were out just walking through the grass, it was mowed. We weren't trekking through the woods or anything. And he had mentioned, 'Oh the dogs had a couple ticks on them, keep and eye out for ticks,'" said Crawford.
Illnesses on rise in US
That's the advice from the nation's top health officials, too. The CDC recently warned the number of illnesses from ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016. During that time, ine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered in the U.S., including the chikungunya and Zika viruses. Adding to the concern, changes in the temperature across the United States have allowed mosquito and tick populations to have longer active seasons and spread into new areas.
This is a trend the Washtenaw County Health Department has been monitoring for many years.
"We know that this was coming and it's continuing forward, where we're seeing more ticks in more areas," said Kristen Schweighoefer, of the Washtenaw County Health Department.
The map below shows just how widespread ticks have become in Michigan. The red counties have confirmed human exposures to Lyme disease, or ticks that have tested positive for the bacteria. The polka dot counties have a potential risk. Remember, ticks don't stop at the county line.
"They can be in your yard. They can be in any little patch of brush off to the side of your yard," said Schweighoefer.
Use insect repellent to fight ticks, mosquitoes
The CDC recommends using insect repellent that protects against mosquitoes and ticks. Everyone needs to make daily tick checks a regular part of his or her daily routine.
"They are tricky and they're very small. The more dangerous type of tick, the black legged tick, is actually smaller than a sesame seed," said Schweighoefer. "Come inside, do your tick checks. Check all your cracks and crevasses. Make sure that you are tick free, and then remove any ticks if you do find them.
Crawford wasn't bitten by that tick he found while in bed. He will be more careful now, nonetheless.
"My cousin said, 'Oh we probably should have put on bug spray," and he was right," said Crawford.
Dr. O'Neill said there is no need for panic or paranoia. However, precautions are needed.
"Ticks are here in Michigan and we better get used to it," he said.
Steps to reduce your risk
There are some steps you can take around your own property to reduce your mosquito and tick risk.
- For mosquitoes, get rid of any standing water and repair torn screens.
- For ticks, we have a separate article here (click here) all about how to fix your yard to battle them.