Lone star tick larvae, also called seed ticks, are very prevalent at this time, particularly in the southern third of Illinois. Many local residents are referring to them as turkey mites, blaming increasing wild turkey populations for their abundance. Although lone star ticks feed on most mammals and ground-living birds, their abundance is more likely due to abundant rainfall this spring.
Ticks, particularly larval ticks, are very susceptible to dry conditions and low humidity. These larval ticks are roundish, six-legged, and about the size of the period at the end of a sentence. Ticks do not get eight legs until they molt to the nymph stage and retain eight legs in the following adult. Unengorged, adult lone star ticks are flattened, roundish, and about 1/8 inch in diameter. Female ticks have a white spot in the middle of the back, being the source of the speciesí name.
Control ticks by keeping grassy areas mowed. The resulting drier conditions eliminate most of the ticks. If needed, spray the turf with a single application of carbaryl (Sevin) or malathion. Insect repellent containing DEET, picloram, or soybean oil can be applied to skin and/or clothes. Permethrin, sold as Permanone, is a repellent and toxicant that can be applied to clothes.