UMaine offers tick-identification service

A couple of years ago, after spending hours and hours in the Maine woods, I unintentionally joined a club I hoped I could avoid.

A female deer tick (left) and a nymph deer tick. (Courtesy of Griffin Dill of the UMaine Cooperative Extension)

A female deer tick (left) and a nymph deer tick. (Courtesy of Griffin Dill of the UMaine Cooperative Extension)

A tick decided to bite me on the butt.

After talking to plenty of friends and colleagues, I learned a few important facts.

First, I was apparently overdue: Nearly all of my friends regularly find ticks on their clothing and skin after trips afield.

Second, deer ticks aren’t the only ticks to be wary of … there are other species in our woods, and though they may not carry Lyme disease, they might carry something equally nasty.

And third, I learned I had a lot left to learn about ticks.

Earlier this week, as reports of tick-borne diseases continue on a regular basis, I received some good news from the University of Maine.

According to a news release, UMaine Cooperative Extension is offering a free tick-identification service for Maine residents.

The launch of the service is well-timed: May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and the UMaine release says the state’s tick population has been increasing since the late 1980s — as has the emergence of tick-borne diseases.

UMaine Cooperative Extension is also offering resources about the 14 species of ticks that exist in Maine, along with guidelines on how to remove ticks if they do latch on to you.

The university is not testing ticks for actual disease-causing organisms, but for some, just identifying the tick that bit you might be a relief.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Fill out the tick submission form available on the website.
  • Don’t attach any tape to the tick.
  • Put your tick in a small, leak-proof container that is NOT made of glass. Add just enough rubbing alcohol to cover the tick.
  • Wrap that container in a paper towel, then place your tick receptacle in a leak-proof zip-locking bag.
  • Then mail your tick to the UMaine Extension Tick ID Lab, 491 College Ave., Orono, 04473-1295.

The lab will also accept ticks in person if you’d prefer to deliver it to them. Follow the same protocol, but take the package to the lab at 491 College Ave. between regular business hours, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.




John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.