“Tick Tag Go” lets you become an amateur naturalist

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – You don’t need much equipment to be an amateur tick hunter. In fact, you don’t need any, because the name of the game here is passive surveillance.

Assistant professor of insect biology Louise Lynch-O’Brien was the University of Nebraska-Lincoln contingent of last week’s tick hunt. She says UNL’s effort to find even more ticks isn’t about going out and looking for them.

“We’re asking people simply to be mindful when they do come across a tick”, she says. “If they happen to come across one when they’re going for a walk, or hunting, or whatever it is, or if they’re walking their dog and they find one on their dog, to then share it with us.”

When you (safely) remove the tick, snap a photo, and upload it to iNaturalist’s Tick Tag Go page.

“What it will get for that person”, explains Lynch-O’Brien, “is they have a record of when they had an interaction with that tick. They’re going to get an identification, likely from one of us, as well as the iNaturalist community.”

There are plenty of invertebrate enthusiasts there online to help ID the critter that tagged along with you. Providing that photo and location info helps researchers expand their reach, and keep an eye on the constant ebb and flow of tick populations. That’s particularly helpful in the case of newly-established species.

Another benefit you’ll get is knowledge. If you were to get sick after a tick bite, that’s information you can give to the doctor to help get you the best care. By the way, if you do wind up being bitten, here’s a tip: forget about fire or matches.

“Use tweezers. Don’t use anything else”, cautions Lynch-O’Brien. “Just keep your phones handy if you find one.”

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