ORONO — More than 89 percent of Maine is covered with forest, putting people at risk for tick exposure.
According to the Maine Forest Tick Survey, last year alone more than 1,653 ticks were collected across the state.
Elissa Ballman, citizen science coordinator at the University of Maine, said out of the 15 recorded species of ticks found in Maine, the blacklegged tick is the most harmful.
“A lot of people call it the deer tick and this is the tick that is most associated with forest and forest edges so they do really well in sort of these fragmented forest areas,” said Ballman.
Tick investigator Allison Gardner at the University of Maine said it’s important to dress safely in a state with a high tick population.
“We encourage people when they are outdoors to wear long pants, to tuck their pants into their socks and use DEET to keep the ticks away and always remember to perform tick checks after coming indoors,” Gardner said.
Ballman said people who volunteer as citizen scientists at the University of Maine can assist with tick research.
If you do find a tick on yourself, you can send it to the University of Maine for further testing.
“Anyone who finds a tick on themselves can send it to the UMaine extension and they will identify it for them,” she said.
The University of Maine is currently recruiting for additional volunteers for the second year of the citizen scientist project.
“Anyone who basically has 5 to 1,000 acres in southern or coastal Maine, we need everyone from people who don’t manage their own land to intense timber harboring,” Ballman said.
For more information or to participate in this year’s citizen science project, visit this website.