Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

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May 16, 2014

Tick population on the rise; use caution

GREENSBURG – It sounds like something out of a Hollywood horror flick.

Eight-legged tiny creatures likely better suited for a Wes Craven screenplay sift through hair and fur in a desperate search for a feeding spot. When the ugly critters find the perfect location, they latch on and begin feeding on the blood of the host, which is (perhaps blissfully) largely unaware of the assault taking place on its epidermis.

Once full of its favorite crimson liquid, the bloated creature drops from its host and retreats into the woods from which it came, finds a mate, lays eggs and then begins the horridly disconcerting process all over again. So goes the existence of the humble tick, one of nature’s peskiest parasites.

The worst part about the previously described process may be that it’s happening right now, all over southeastern Indiana and across the rest of the country.

Ripley County Purdue Extension Educator Dave Osborne has seen it all firsthand.

An avid outdoorsman, Osborne said this year’s tick population in places such as Ripley and Dearborn Counties is greater than he’s seen in the past. Particularly susceptible are folks venturing into the great outdoors for activities such as mushroom hunting or turkey hunting.

Trips into the woods can result in unintended consequences – and unwelcome tiny visitors – if proper precautions aren’t taken, the extension educator said.

“Any time a person gets in a weedy, off-the-beaten-path in the woods, they run the risk of running into a hatching of ticks,” Osborne said. “My feeling is they’re gonna be pretty widespread this year.”

Osborne attributed the location of this year’s larger tick population to habits of the creatures, which can live only when a sufficient warm-blooded host can be found. Deer, rabbits and other wildlife can unwittingly provide safe havens throughout the winter for ticks, whiling away the weather with some uninvited guests beneath their fur.

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