As Lone Star ticks appear in RI, new website helps decode tick danger

JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Most people have heard about dog and deer ticks. But now, scientists say the Lone Star tick has moved north and it’s carrying disease with it.

University of Rhode Island researcher Dr. Thomas Mather said since the 1980s Rhode Island, reports of the Lone Star tick have mostly been confined to Prudence Island. However, in the past year, researchers have started to see a few of the insects in Jamestown.

The Lone Star tick differs from other ticks we’re used to.

“It is super fast. It can move from below your knees to the top of your head in a matter of seconds,” Mather said. “And, it carries its own disease. It’s called human ehrlichiosis.”

So how do you tell the difference between the different types of ticks and the dangers they may pose?

There is a crowdsourcing effort called TickSpotters offered by the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center

Organizers encourage people to take a picture of the tick in question and send it to their website.

“And within about 24 to 36 hours, we will be able to tell you what kind of tick it was, its degree of riskiness to you, and then, what you should do next,” Mather said.

There’s also a new educational-based program called Tick Smart Towns America in the works.

Jamestown is the first community taking part in the effort and Cynthia Leonard is leading the charge.

She says the spray called Permethrin helps keep ticks at bay.

“Make sure your shoes are sprayed, your pants are sprayed, everything you are wearing is sprayed,” Leonard said.

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