image of barnstable county courthouse

Stay Aware and Don’t Fall for Tick Bites (or outdated tick testing info).

~A note from Larry Dapsis, Extension’s County Entomologist

I see a lot of posts on gardening pages on Facebook about working around the yard and hiking, which it looks like many people are doing.  Be aware that adult stage deer ticks are quite active!  They can be found at the edge of your yard or trail, in leaf litter and on vegetation up to two feet off the ground.  Unlike the nymph stage of the tick which are always down in the leaf litter, adult stage ticks hanging out on vegetation are counting on a tasty encounter with a larger animal like a raccoon, deer, coyote, turkey or a person…if it happens to be an opossum that is very bad news for the tick.  In addition to tick checks after going back inside, I recommend wearing long clothing treated with permethrin, including footwear.  There is a video on our website specifically about this product at

I see a lot of discussion lately about what do to with leaves in your yard.  One position is to leave the leaves since that provides overwintering protection for bumblebee queens, moth and butterfly pupae, etc.  Another position is get rid of the leaves since also provide habitat for ticks. Bottom line, lawns can tolerate a thin layer of leaves but thick layers should be removed. Click here for an interesting article about the pluses and minuses of leaf removal.

If you get bit by a tick, testing the tick for tick-borne diseases is an important step in helping you and your healthcare provider decide on an approach to care. I recommend sending your tick for testing to the lab at UMass-Amherst, by registering at their website The standard charge for tick testing is $50.

Click image to visit for tick testing through UMass-Amherst.

You may have heard of free or $15 dollar tick testing for Barnstable County residents. Back in 2016 and 2017, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension received grants from Cape Cod Healthcare to provide subsidized tick testing for Barnstable County residents, but the grants have since expired and subsidized tick testing is no longer offered. For information about ticks including tick testing see or contact entomologist Larry Dapsis at or at #508-375-6642.

If you have any questions about what’s crawling around your yard or home, feel free to reach out to me at or submit your questions at my website, Feel free to attach a video or picture file!