Deer tick
Ticks are blood-feeding parasites that are often found in tall grass and shrubs where they will wait to attach to a passing host. Physical contact is the only method of transportation for ticks as they do not jump or fly but may drop from their perch and fall onto a host. Ticks will generally try to climb to the highest part of their host.

Ticks are common throughout the Lakeshore with a high population located on North Manitou Island. The most commonly found tick at the Lakeshore are the American Dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the Black-Legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), also commonly known as the Deer tick. The Black-Legged tick population has gradually increased in recent years and is known to be a vector of Lyme disease.

Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Prompt removal of ticks is an important step in preventing diseases. In most cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a tick infected with Lyme disease must be attached to its host for 36 - 48 hours or more before Lyme disease can be transmitted.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease
• Chills and fever
• Headaches
• Muscle and Joint Pain
• A characteristic bull's eye skin rash presents in 70 to 80% of cases

Late Lyme Disease
• Joint swelling, usually in one or more large joints, especially the knees
• Nervous system abnormalities can include nerve paralysis (facial muscles), and meningitis
• Rarely, irregularities of the heart rhythm may occur

Rash from deer tick bite.


  • Use tick repellents with DEET, according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants with cuffs tucked into socks.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground, fallen logs, or stone walls.
  • Do frequent "tick checks" of yourself and any children with you. Check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside belly button, back of the knees, under the arms, in and around the hair, between the legs, around the waist.

Tick Removal
If an attached tick is found:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Do not use folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible.

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing an attached tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, and where you most likely acquired the tick. Early treatment is important in preventing late Lyme disease complications.
For more information visit http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/ or http://www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/0,4579,7-186-25890---,00.html

Last updated: May 27, 2021

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