In spite of the erratic weather, ticks are out in full force in Central New York - and the mild winter has led to a more severe season than usual, according to experts.

It's a double-whammy: coronavirus and social distancing policies have driven more people outdoors, but once they get there, ticks are ready to strike.

After spending most of the time stuck at home, Central New Yorkers are escaping to the relative freedom of the outdoors, hiking and walking through natural settings in greater numbers than before - if the foot-traffic on local parks and trails are any indication.

Experts say the mild winter and relatively early spring have led to an increase in the number of ticks, and as the season progresses, this could be a bad year for ticks.

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Anecdotal reports indicate that ticks are out and actively biting already.

The best protection against ticks and the diseases they carry is prevention:

    • Using tick repellent; remember to spray clothing as well
    • Wearing long sleeves and pants
    • Avoiding wooded and overgrown areas
    • Check thoroughly for ticks when returning from outdoors

It's also important to protect your pets with an effective flea and tick repellent.