BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — With the weather warming and adding to the prevalence of ticks, experts studying them are now worried about a new species in Connecticut.
Researchers in the state are collecting ticks by the hundreds, on the lookout for parasitic arachnids found in wooded areas like the ones in Fairfield County where News 8 was on Wednesday.
Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a tick expert in the state, said “they will latch onto you and attempt to bite you.”
Molaei, who is a research scientist and director of CT Passive Tick Surveillance Program, has been regularly collecting ticks with his assistant in Bridgeport where their numbers are notably higher.
“It takes five minutes to 10 minutes walking outside, and hundreds of ticks crawling on you, and attach to the drag we are using,” Molaei said.
It is the Asian long-horned tick he is most concerned about. A species new to Connecticut, they are reproducing at a higher rate and biting people.
“There was a notion this tick was not in favor of biting humans, but now there is more and more evidence that no, that’s not the case. It bites humans,” Molaei said.
Two other species of concern are the Gulf Coast tick and the Lone Star tick. The latter is now linked to a rare red meat allergy.
The ticks they collect are brought back to their lab to determine what diseases they carry.
Although tick bites typically are not life-threatening for humans, Molaei said some carry potentially deadly viruses.
If you are in a wooded area where there is a possibility of ticks, it is important to thoroughly inspect your clothes and it does not hurt to do it again when you are home before you wash and dry your clothes. Do not forget to bathe yourself too.
Wearing light-colored clothing makes them easier to spot. Protect yourself by spraying your clothes with pesticide and tuck your pants into your socks.
Molaei said there is not really a tick season anymore due to the warming temperatures in the region. Ticks can be active year-round as long as the temperature stays above freezing.
“The evidence is that we used to receive maybe 50-80 ticks through so-called winter months. That number has increased to 800,” Molaei said.