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Ticks By Mail

July 18, 2018

Scientists ask volunteers to share their ticks.


Western black-legged ticks. (Ervic Aquino/California Department of Public Health)

Western black-legged ticks. (Ervic Aquino/California Department of Public Health)


Ticks by mail. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Ticks are expanding their ranges rapidly, carrying unfamiliar diseases to new regions. But a new citizen science project may help. In the journal PLOS ONE, Northern Arizona University researcher Nathan Nieto and his colleagues report encouraging citizens nationwide who find a tick on themselves to send it to them for analysis. So far, they’ve received over 16,000 ticks from 49 states. Nieto says citizen scientists collect the sort of data real scientists can’t.

NATHAN NIETO (Northern Arizona University):

They’re really coming into contact with ticks. And that gives us a more clear estimate as to risk in the landscape for actual people as opposed to an index that we’ve been creating as biologists.


They’ve found tick-borne diseases in twenty-four states where they’d never been reported. And they’re not done yet: if you have a tick you’d like to send them, visit for instructions. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.

Story by Bob Hirshon

To learn how you can send in a tick for analysis visit:

Skip the section at the top of the page about the project being on hold, and go down to the section How It Works for instructions. Remember to send your sample to the address provided at Northern Arizona University.