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American dog tick

The American dog tick is one type of tick commonly found in Kansas. | Download this photo.

Sudden flush of plant growth has ticks flourishing

K-State Insect Diagnostic Lab to close mid-June

May 16, 2018

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Almost overnight, we went from the drab, brown tones of winter to lush, green vegetation across much of the Plains. And the plants aren’t the only living things that are thriving.

“In my experience this is the earliest we’ve had tick issues,” said Kansas State University entomology professor, Raymond Cloyd, who said he fielded more calls and emails about ticks earlier than usual this spring.

While it’s hard to know for sure if there are more ticks than normal, Cloyd, a veteran specialist with K-State Research and Extension, said the cool, rainy weather in parts of Kansas and other states, followed by a quick profusion of plant growth may have boosted the tick population.

Ticks tend to flourish when vegetation flourishes, especially in weeds and unmanaged areas. To minimize the number of ticks on your property, he said it’s best to keep lawns mowed and generally reduce unmanaged areas where weeds can flourish.

“I am not a proponent of blanket (insecticide) sprays in the yard,” Cloyd said.

Other steps he recommends:

-       When outdoors, wear repellents based on DEET or permethrin. Permethrin-based products, however, must not be applied directly to the skin.

-       Tuck your pant legs into your socks. White socks are best because it’s easier to see ticks on them.

-       After coming in from potentially tick-infested areas, inspect your or your children’s skin and remove ticks immediately. Also, check pets that were outdoors.

-       Take a shower as soon as possible after coming indoors.

-       If you find a tick that’s already embedded, gently pull it out with tweezers, including the head. A tick head broken off and left in the skin can potentially lead to an infection.

The most common ticks found in Kansas include the American dog tick, Lone star tick, the Brown dog tick and the black-legged tick.

Because some ticks carry pathogens such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease, it’s a good idea to have them identified if they were embedded in the skin. The resources to do that, however, will soon shrink in Kansas.

Due to budget cuts, the Insect Diagnostic Lab at K-State will close on June 16 and the “Gotbugs” email address will not be monitored. Kansans can continue to submit samples to their county or district K-State Research and Extension agriculture agent, but the staff available to help with insect identification will be reduced, so turnaround times will take longer, Cloyd said.

To learn more:


Written by

Mary Lou Peter
913-856-2335, Ext. 130

At a glance

The rapid growth of vegetation after a cool, wet spring means ticks are flourishing in Kansas and other central states.

Notable quote

“In my experience this is the earliest we’ve had tick issues.”

– Raymond Cloyd, K-State professor and entomology specialist with K-State Research and Extension


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.