Tick season is already (unfortunately) here in South Dakota and there are probably millions of the blood-sucking pests that thrive in the Mount Rushmore State.

Generally, tick season begins in late April and runs through October in South Dakota. A wet spring, and/or a warm winter are the best conditions for this bug that only rivals the mosquito as one of the biggest wildlife threats in the state.

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According to the US Forrest Service, 17 species of ticks can be found in South Dakota. but, these four are the most prominent and probably the most dangerous. They can spread various diseases, like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

THE MOST DANGEROUS TICKS IN SOUTH DAKOTA:

  1. Black-Legged Tick (Deer Tick): Usually referred to as the deer tick, this parasite is the chief spreader of Lyme Disease and is capable of living year-round, as long as it avoids temperatures that fall below the freezing level.
  2. The American Dog Tick: A red and brown tick mainly lives in South Dakota's Grasslands.
  3. Rocky Mountain Wood Tick: A tick that is only found in higher elevation parts of South Dakota, like the Black Hills. According to the SDSU Extention Office, these ticks
  4. The Lone Star Tick: Not as common as the Dog Tick and is mainly found in the southeastern part of South Dakota. The Lones Star Tick has a large body, with a large mouth and brown legs, with females sporting a lone star spot. Bites from this pest can lead to alpha-gal syndrome, which is associated with a meat allergy.

HOW TO PREVENT TICK BITES:

The folks in the know say that the best offense against tick-bites is a good defense. Keep them from biting when outdoors:

  • Wear stuff that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Tuck your pants into white socks.
  • Use a tick-repellant like a Permethrin spray.

And check yourself and your pets after you've been outside. Check for ticks crawling around or already dug in.

STEPS TO SAFELY REMOVE A TICK:

From the SDSU Extention Office, here is what to do if you find a tick in you:

  1. Grap the tick with pointy tweezers as close to the skin as
    possible.
  2. Pull the tick straight out with slow, steady force.
  3. Once the tick is removed, disinfect the bite area with rubbing
    alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. If you would like
    to have the tick identified, bring it to your healthcare provider in
    rubbing alcohol or in a sealed container.

Sources: South Dakota State University Extension, An identification guide to common Ticks of South Dakota, US Forrest Service

 

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