Increase in ticks calls for Easter egg hunt checks

(Western Mass News photo)

As you get ready for your Easter egg hunt this weekend, you may want to clear your yard of all those leaves that have collected over the winter.

It is tick season and as it turns out, ticks love to spend their winters in leaves and other yard debris.

With 11 grandchildren, Anne McIntyre of Springfield is getting ready for Easter.

She's clearing her yard.

“Oh yes, I’m trying!” McIntyre told us. “It's a lot of work! I get it done!”

McIntyre is also keeping an eye out for ticks.

Technicians at the Laboratory of Medical Zoology at UMass Amherst have their eye on ticks as well.

UMass is one of the only labs in the country to provide a tick check service called 'Tick Report'.

If you find a tick, send it here. They'll check to see if it carries any tick borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

Technician, Tim Daly, told us it is starting to get extremely busy for them.

“We'll see submissions go from 100 a week to 100 a day,” Daly said.

With Easter egg hunts and family gatherings this weekend, Daly says holiday preparation should also include picking up leaves.

“Leaves provide a really good environment for ticks,” Daly told us. “It keeps them warm over the winter and provides moisture so they don't dry out so they can hide under there over the winter into the early spring.”

Between 2016 and 2017, the number of ticks sent here to be tested doubled, from 6,000 to 12,000.

This year, thanks to a greater awareness about the dangers of ticks, they expect 20,000.

If you find a tick, Daly says to get it off as soon as possible.

“A lot of people over think it, it’s really simple. All you do is get some fine tip tweezers, get the tick as close to the skin as you can and just pull straight up,” Daly said.

For McIntyre, she's going to make sure her grandchildren get tick checks after that egg hunt.

“Probably yes, I think so,” McIntyre said. “At least my kids will do it, my son and daughter-in-law will do it.”

Daly says tick checks should happen every time you come indoors.

These guys are out and will stay out at least through the fall.

For more information on the UMass lab, their Tick Report program, and special tick tweezers the lab uses, CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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