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All the rain means an uptick in ticks

The rain might be good news for Colorado drought conditions, but it's also helping out something that's not so beneficial.

DENVER — There's no question we need the rain. But all this rain could also mean an uptick in ticks.

According to Lisa Mason, an entomologist at Colorado State University Extension, we are in prime tick season now. Mason has long been studying the tiny creatures.

"In Colorado, we have 27 species of ticks," Mason said. "Ticks thrive on cool moist weather, which we've had plenty of recently."

Unfortunately, the longer the cooler-than-normal weather holds on, the longer those ticks will stick around. Mason said ticks are already waiting in tall grasses and woody areas.

"They can actually sense the vibrations, the warmth from their host and the carbon dioxide and so with all three of those factors ... their host walks by and they'll grab on," she said.

Colorado ticks don't carry Lyme disease, but they do carry Colorado Tick Fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The good news is: The ticks are slow to feast.

"Which is great because that means that gives us a little bit of time after you go for a hike," Mason said. "You can look yourself over, check your kids, check your pets, and try to get those ticks off before they actually bite."

Considering the course our climate is on, ticks will move north into areas they've never been found before. They'll also be out and about for longer periods, Mason said.

"If we have a warm winter and spring arrives early, because of those warm temperatures, the ticks might be out sooner," she said. "And with that longer window, it's also possible that, you know, that contracting a disease from the tick could be more likely."

How to remove ticks

If a tick does bite you, remove it as soon as possible by using tweezers. Grab it by its head as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out.

Experts recommend wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts that are lighter in color when you're hiking. With lighter-colored clothes, you're more likely to see the ticks on your clothes sooner.

Also put on bug repellent. That can do wonders to keep the ticks off.

More 9NEWS coverage of Colorado's climate:    

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