JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As tick season steadily approaches, the Missouri Department of Conservation is asking residents to save the creepy crawlers they come across and mail them in.
It's part of an ongoing scientific research study to better understand the statewide distribution of tick species and the human pathogens they carry. MDC is in partnership with A.T. Still University in Kirksville on the project, which started last year and will end this September.
“We need the help of many Missourians around the state,” said MDC Ecological Health Unit Science Supervisor Matt Combes. “Participation by many ‘citizen scientists’ is vital in helping us collect enough data at a scale unattainable by MDC and University scientists alone.”
The data will be used to determine at the county level what tick special and bacterial pathogens are present in Missouri. The data will be shared with the CDC and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and it will help guide outreach and education efforts about ticks in Missouri and tick-borne illnesses, and the precautions people should take.
Most ticks are most active April through July, but they can be found all year round. The three most common species in Missouri are the Lone Star Tick, the American dog tick and the deer tick. They can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Heartland virus and more.
Here's how MDC says to mail them: "place each live tick in a plastic zip-top bag with a piece of damp paper towel or moist cotton ball, then fold the bag and place it inside another plastic zip-top bag with a completed sample-submission form."
The project uses the submissions to keep a tick distribution map, which it updates weekly. It breaks down the number and species of ticks sampled in each county.
Click here for a link to the form, which can be printed off.