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Last updated: April 24, 2023 

What are Ticks?

Ticks are parasitic organisms that feed on the blood of animals, including humans. Ticks can carry many diseases, but the main disease of concern in Ontario is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is carried by a species of tick called Ixodes scupularis also known as the blacklegged (deer) tick. Ticks vary in size, and can often be very difficult to spot. Like other pests, experts expect ticks to spread within Ontario due to climate change. Ticks are mostly active in the spring and summer, but can be present any time of year when the temperature is above freezing.  

How can I Prevent Tick Bites?

The following strategies are strongly recommended to prevent tick bites:  

  • Wear tucked in long-sleeved clothing, and/or chemically treated clothing 
  • Avoid or reduce habitat areas –  avoid brushing against tall grasses 
  • Check yourself and others – physically examine yourself or others for ticks when coming indoors, especially hard to see areas such as under arms and the back of legs. A person may not realize that a tick is currently feeding on them.  
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET (follow manufacturer’s directions).  
  • Don’t forget about your pets – if you take your dog for a walk, check your dog for ticks as well and consider discussing tick prevention with your veterinarian.  

How do I Remove a Tick?

If you find a tick actively feeding on you or another person, it is important to safely remove it. This is done by firmly grasping its head, as close to the your skin as possible, with tweezers parallel to skin and pulling it out. If you are uncomfortable removing a tick, it is best to consult your primary care provider or seek medical attention. Be careful not to tear or otherwise damage the tick as infection may occur from the open wound site. 

How Can I get a Tick Tested?

Generally, public health units are no longer submitting individual ticks for testing. However, Ontario Public Health Units focus on active surveillance for blacklegged ticks and Lyme Disease. You can have a tick identified (to determine if it is a blacklegged tick) through This is an online resource where you can submit a picture of your removed tick for species identification. Experts will provide further instruction if Ixodes scupularis (blacklegged tick or deer tick) is identified. If the tick is identified as a blacklegged tick, you may wish to have a discussion with your primary care provider or seek medical attention to determine if additional treatment may be required. 

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