Ticks are no longer just a problem up north or deep in the woods -- they can be found all across Michigan, and sometimes right in our own backyard. And the fall season is no time to let your guard down.
One of the most commonly encountered ticks in Michigan, the blacklegged tick, is active anytime the temperatures are above 40 degrees. These ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and the risk has been rising.
In the map above, the Michigan counties that are labeled red have at least two confirmed exposures, or ticks, that have tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Speckled counties are those with a potential risk.
More: Let’s talk about Michigan ticks: 5 you should be familiar with, how to prevent a bite and what to do if you find one
It is essential to be aware of ticks anytime you’re heading outdoors.
“If you can avoid getting exposed to a tick in the first place, that is the best thing you can do for yourself,” said Dr. Kathleen Townes, who specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics.
Ticks prefer wooded and grassy areas, but in the fall, they can also lurk in fallen leaves. To protect your family, apply insect repellant before heading outdoors, and use tick prevention treatments on your dog.
It’s a good idea to tuck your pants into your socks. When walking outdoors, stick to the trails and avoid tall grass and brush.
Throughout your time outdoors, do careful tick checks on yourself and your friends, kids and pets.
In the video above, you can see a graphic that shows some of the places ticks can hide on your body, including the hairline and behind the knees. Remember, ticks can be as small as a poppyseed -- and the sooner you remove it, the better.
“Lyme disease is not transmitted unless the tick is attached for at least 36 hours,” Townes said.
If you find a tick, remove it by grasping it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and firmly pull the tick straight out. Be careful not to twist it.
Be sure to save the tick in a baggie, which will make identifying it easier.
Related: Tick season in Michigan: How to stay safe as lyme disease risk spreads east
More: Good health tips