“It’s beautiful outside,” said Linda Giampa, executive director of the Bay Area Lyme Foundation. “Everyone wants to get out and hike. We just want to make sure that people understand what to do and how to be safe out there, because it is going to be a massive tick season.”
Giampa said early studies suggest 30% to 40% more ticks are out this year compared to dry years, and this season is likely to last much longer than usual.
Forests in Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties are hot spots; China Camp State Park is a place to be especially careful. But ticks can be found all across California, including at the beach, hiding in seagrasses. Most years, ticks are found mostly in Northern California, but this year they are likely to show up further south because the entire state was drenched in soaking rain for several months.
Tick season is year round, but the prime time is early spring when the nymphs are out. They’re only the size of a poppy seed, but they carry more bacteria than adult ticks — so they’re more likely to transmit illnesses like Lyme disease. Tick-borne illnesses have increased on the West Coast in recent years, and the best way to stay healthy is to prevent getting bitten.