Ohio reports ‘explosion’ in tick population this summer
Ohio’s tick population is reportedly on the rise, and a national park in northeastern Ohio has posted warnings about what park officials say is the worst level of the blood-sucking pests there in years.
Ticks are out earlier than usual in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and tick warnings have been posted at trailheads and on the park’s website. This is the second time the 33,000-acre park has posted such warnings, park spokeswoman Lisa Petit said.
While no agency tracks, counts or monitors ticks, health officials and veterinarians in northeastern Ohio are seeing more of the pests.
Summit County Public Health typically gets one or two ticks submitted by residents for analysis, but had already received a dozen in the first two weeks of June, health department spokesman Terry Tuttle said.
Tuttle said blacklegged ticks, which can carry diseases, have moved into Ohio from Pennsylvania.
“There’s been an explosion in the tick population in Ohio, and it’s becoming a problem infestation,” Tuttle said.
The small arachnids are found along the edges of woods and in woods, tall grass, weeds and underbrush. They feed on the blood of birds, mammals and reptiles and can spread disease to humans.
The most common tick species in Ohio is the American dog tick, which is on the increase this year, said Glenn Needham, a retired Ohio State University Extension entomologist and tick expert. That tick is most commonly found in grassy areas along trails and roads.
The populations of dog ticks — which thrive in cool, wet conditions — have increased in recent years amid mild winters.
“It’s been a sort of perfect storm,” Needham said.