Is Utah seeing an uptick in ticks within wildlife and landscape?

Jun 2, 2021, 8:39 PM
390650 07: A Close Up Of An Adult Female Deer Tick, Dog Tick, And A Lone Star Tick Are Shown June 15, 2001 On The Palm Of A Hand. Ticks Cause An Acute Inflammatory Disease Characterized By Skin Changes, Joint Inflammation, And Flu-Like Symptoms Called Lyme Disease. (Photo By Getty Images)
(Photo By Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — From Antelope Island to the Wasatch Range, Utah has seen an increase in the number of ticks. State Park officials say they’re hearing, more often, that a visitor found a tick during or after their trip to Antelope Island. 

Is there an uptick in ticks?

Wendy Wilson, Assistant Park Manager at Antelope Island State Park, said the number of reports they are receiving isn’t the issue — it’s the number of ticks per report that causes them concern. “Just like the gnats that are out here and folks get used to that this time of year … when we know the gnats will be out, we should expect ticks as well,” Wilson said. 

Spring conditions like higher temperatures and humidity are ideal for ticks.  And Dr. Scott Bernhardt, an assistant professor in Utah State University’s biology department, said Utah’s drier conditions are beneficial to ticks as well.

That means that when humans go out to enjoy the summer sun, so do the ticks.

The question is, are there more ticks this year than usual?

“I wouldn’t say there’s an increase in [tick] activity, but there is an increase in people finding or coming across ticks,” Bernhardt said. This trend can be spotted all over Utah. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a handful of diseases tied to ticks. And they can be harmful to humans, pets, and Utah wildlife.

The good news, said Bernhardt, is that most of the ticks studied in Utah haven’t carried Lyme disease, which is the most troublesome disease carried by ticks. 

Encountering ticks in Utah

A dry winter coupled with an early drought leaves perfect conditions for ticks to thrive. According to USU-Extension, the American Dog and Rocky Mountain Wood ticks are the most common species that Utahns encounter. 

The tiny arachnids grow to be only a few millimeters long and are much smaller when young. Their small size makes them hard to detect as they feed on the blood of larger animals.

What to do if you find a tick on yourself

 “You can remove the tick yourself at home,” according to Dr. Troy Madsen, an emergency physician with University of Utah Health,

“The best thing you can do is use a pair of tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull back and remove the tick,” Madsen said. 

Make sure you remove the entire tick in one piece, being careful not to leave the head in your skin. Once a tick has been removed, it’s important to consider the possibility that it may have transmitted a virus or bacteria.

According to the CDC, nearly all diseases transmitted by ticks can be treated with antibiotics or other medications, and symptoms of most diseases carried by tricks will clear up within a few weeks.

The exceptions are Lyme disease and the Powassan virus, which can both cause long-term symptoms.

Spending time outdoors makes contact with ticks likely, but if you take steps to protect yourself, you don’t have to let them ruin your summer.

How to protect yourself from ticks

University of Utah Health has offered these tips

And here are steps recommended by the CDC to protect yourself as you go into brush or wooded areas:

  • Wear insect repellent with DEET [or diethyltoluamide]
  • Treat clothing with permethrin, an insecticide
  • Avoid brushing by vegetation and stay in the middle of trails when hiking
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into your socks
  • Shower or bathe after being outdoors to wash off any ticks before they attach
  • Wash clothes on a hot setting once returning inside
  • Perform a “tick check” to inspect your body, your children, and pets for ticks

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
3 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
3 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
3 days ago
Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...
Waverly Golden

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to more job opportunities.
3 days ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
7 days ago
A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Is Utah seeing an uptick in ticks within wildlife and landscape?