Lone star tick larvae, also called seed ticks, turkey ticks, or turkey mites, are out in abundance right now!
Sometimes confused with chiggers, dozens to hundreds of lone star tick larvae will transfer off vegetation together as dime to quarter-sized patches. They are found in a wide variety of environments, but are often NOT in areas with several hours per day of full, strong sun.
Lone star tick larvae bites often cause itchy little bumps. The bites have historically not been considered cause for disease concern, but recently have anecdotally been associated with the Alpha-gal mammal meat allergy (this has not been proven).
Some steps you can take to prevent bites include:
- use EPA-approved repellents on your clothing, gear, and shoes;
- wear tight-weave socks that larvae can’t crawl through and tuck your pants into your socks;
- avoid brushing up against vegetation when in the woods; and
- conduct regular visual checks (every few minutes) when out. To do a visual check, scan down from your torso to your feet, front-sides-back, and then scan back up.
If you spot loose larval ticks during a tick check, remove them with strips of tape (e.g., wide painters’ tape) or a lint roller. Then place them in a plastic bag and either dispose of them or mail them to the INHS Medical Entomology Lab for identification. INHS doesn’t currently test larval ticks, but does archive them for future research.
If you have attached ticks, follow these instructions by Mayo Clinic to remove them. The INHS Medical Entomology Lab does NOT accept attached ticks.
Any ticks that have hitchhiked on your clothing after a visit to tick habitat can be killed with a 15-minute tumble on high heat in the dryer, as heat, not water, kills ticks.
Be safe out there, and remember, watch out for those larval lone star ticks!