Tick Population Growing in Idaho

For 20+ years my family has often visited our cabin in Boise County, Idaho. We’ve never never seen a single tick up there, ever. A couple years ago we saw our first couple of ticks. Since then we have seen more and more. We’ve already found several on us and our dogs this year.

I’m not to concerned about Lyme Disease, but am curious in a scientific way. Has anybody else noticed more ticks around them recently? And if so, do you know what kind they are?

Welcome to the Forum!
That’s a great question. I’ve never been to Idaho, so I can’t speak to your specific situation.
I’m in New Jersey now, but lived in Israel for the last five years. Ticks aren’t too much of a problem in Israel – not because they don’t exist, but because there they’re only very rarely vectors of serious disease.


Absolutely. Here in Eastern Ontario. They were never here. Then the health boards started saying look out for ticks, eh. I was like pfft, whatever. Then a few years passed, still saw nothing. Then I started seeing about 1 per year. Then after about 2 years it was 2 per year, then a year later, there’s just ticks everywhere. At first it was just Eastern Black-legged Ticks (deer ticks), now it’s American Dog ticks too.

It’s my theory that with climate change and the temperatures rising which is altering the times in which birds are migrating and altering the seasons as well as other species extending there range, that ticks are hitching rides on the migrating birds and animals and thus extending there range and increasing there populations.

It’s just going to get worse from here, guess we have to get used to it.


I grew up in Northwestern Washington and I’ve done botanical fieldwork in Idaho the last four Summers so I have two responses to your question.

First off, I have spent a lot of time outside in Idaho and I can’t make any sense of where the ticks are and where they aren’t… In some places there are hundreds in the cat-tail marshes and in others there are none. Sometimes there are hundreds in the mid elevation forests and sometimes none. Until this year I had never ever seen one in the lowland sagebrush deserts but outside of Idaho Falls there are hundreds. I always thought it was way too arid for them in the deserts but nope, they can thrive there just like everywhere else. Just the other weekend I was at nearly 10,000 ft elevation in Western Montana and I sat down for lunch and not one but three ticks immediately started crawling towards me… It was so strange to see them at snow line and they failed miserably at stealth with no vegetation to hide beneath.

I spent ALL of my time outside on Whidbey Island growing up, crawling through the forest every day and I never encountered a single tick… Until two Summers ago I was visiting home and found not one, but two on my island… Such a horrible feeling. I’m used to dealing with tonnes in Idaho but it’s always so much worse when you are not expecting them.

I’m not sure what the population numbers are doing in Idaho but based on my experience and conversations with a few of my friends I think the populations are skyrocketing in Western Washington.

Also, please do be a little concerned about Lyme disease. My partner picked up Lyme in South Dakota and her life will never be the same as a result. If you get bit even once please get tested… It’s a myth that everyone gets a distinct rash and a lot of people show no symptoms until it is too late- the earlier you catch it the higher probability it can be treated successfully. If any doctor ever tries to tell you that Lyme disease can be cured with a simple course of antibiotics walk out of their office right then and there and find a Lyme literate doctor.


I went hiking at McNary National Wildlife Refuge in southcentral Washington two years ago. We (my family) crawled around the closed gate and we spent the night pulling ticks off each other. I think we collected well over 80 individuals.

Earlier this year, I find a tick on the back of my neck after hiking in Coeur d’Alene. Unfortunately, his head didn’t come the body so my problems didn’t end until he grew a new membrane and have somebody to pull it out. It’s been three months since I got bitten and no signs of Lyme disease which is a plus.

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Where I live in West Virginia, at about 2500 ft. elev. ticks have gone from rare to common over the last several years. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is also more common. I mostly see deer (Ixodes scapularis) and dog (Dermacentor variabilis) ticks. If Lyme is a concern for you, talk to your doctor about doxycycline as prophylaxis after a bite. And if you want to sleep well at night, don’t look into all the other tick-borne diseases around now!


Well, yes, we are cautious about Lymes disease, we just refuse to give up our freedom in the forest in fear of it. Thanks for the good advice!

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Similar story for me…I live and grew up in eastern Massachusetts. I remember spending countless hours exploring New England in tall grass and scrubby brush when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s. I could probably count all the ticks I got on me during that time on one hand. These days I’ll get several ticks on me by late March each year, and that’s after being way more careful than I was when I was young and using bug spray. I have no scientific insight but empirically our winters are much milder now, combined with habitat loss, less predators for the deer population, etc. Seems like something is out of balance for sure. It’s a bit of a bummer that we have to be way more vigilant about ticks now.

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I live in Arkansas where ticks originally spawned from some God-forsaken hole in the ground. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I will tell you that premetharin works. Hit your shoes/boots and some standard hiking/camping clothes with it. Most bug sprays only mask your CO2 concentration, while this may confuse mosquitoes it doesn’t do much for the grass ninjas which are ticks, but premetharin is neurotoxic to both bugs and cats.

I also went to a lecture from a parasitologist and found that it takes approximately 24 hours before ticks start returning your digested blood back to your body with their additions to it, like pathogens. As long as you do a thorough tick-check every day you should be free of any diseases they may be carrying.

Also, if you need to extract them simply tug on them until they let go. Their mouth parts are pretty fragile and they will let go if they don’t get an easy bite. This will keep their heads from getting stuck.

I hope this helps! It sure has helped me.


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