UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR) — Warmer weather means beach days and hanging by the pool, but it also means bug season. This year, there has already been a reported increase in ticks across New York, and summer only just started.

“There’s been reported an increase in the number of ticks in the field recently because of the warm weather, and people are getting out more in the summertime for exercise and other activities,” said Dr. Daniel Gilmore, Oneida County Public Health Director. “People have noticed more ticks, but it’s important to be aware that they are there, and to protect yourself from ticks.”

Experts suggest tucking in your clothes, wearing bugspray or bug-repelling items, and even using tape with the sticky side out to prevent the parasites from biting. But the most effective anti-tick measure is performing a “tick check” on the body’s shaded and humid spots.

Over the last few years, ticks have become more common across the state despite awareness. This is due to milder winters and warmer summers, as well as vector species populations—deer, turkey, and mice—rising due to lack of wild predators. Ticks’ own natural predators—other bugs—are frequently decimated by pesticides that ticks themselves can survive. Another issue is Japanese barberry, an invasive, deer-resistant shrub that ticks adore. Western New York PRISM says, “In areas with large infestations of Japanese barberry, there may be a 90% increase in Lyme-disease-carrying ticks when compared to areas with native shrubs.”

Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, began a free tick testing program in 2019 to get a better understanding of how ticks transmit diseases with the goal to develop countermeasures to control Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Upstate Medical reported that in the last two and a half years, one in three ticks sent to their lab for testing—that’s 33%—were positive for a pathogen that can cause illness in humans. That number increases to 41% in Oneida County and 50% in Herkimer.

“If people suspect they have been bitten by a tick, they should notify their primary care provider. And if they have a bulls-eye rash, that’s one sign of Lyme disease,” Gilmore explained. “They should definitely visit their primary care provider.”

Two of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease are the bulls-eye rash and extreme fatigue. Gilmore also advises checking over your pet, they too can be susceptible to tick-borne diseases.