The Crossville Chronicle reported last week on why June and July are such fun months for ticks in Tennessee.
Lyme disease, which is spread by black legged ticks (also called deer ticks or bear ticks), is rare in Tennessee, despite being the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Here most reported cases of human infection are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) and Ehrlichiosis. The lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, is the source of those diseases. (Lone star ticks are reddish brown in color with a white or light-colored spot on the back and a long snout.)
However, tick species-ranges are expanding, which has made effective treatment more difficult in recent years. Tick-borne illnesses now show up in areas where they were not previously found. Babesiosis, a problem caused by microscopic parasites attacking red blood cells, was not reported in Tennessee prior to 2009. Also, ticks are now more commonly found to be carrying (and transmitting) not just one but multiple diseases.
Tick activity starts when temperatures warm in spring and lasts until fall. In Tennessee, June and July have the most reports of tick transmitted infections. Tick numbers (and incidents of tick-borne illnesses) normally drop when the weather turns really hot and dry in summertime. However, tick levels stay higher than normal later in the season during years with plentiful summer rainfall and high humidity (like 2014).