Tick Collections: Field Training, Identifications, and Testing

If you are an employee/intern of a public organization in Illinois like a state park, forest/city parks district, mosquito abatement district, or local public health department, you can drag for ticks and send them to our lab for free identifications and pathogen testing. Please contact Dr. Holly Tuten for training materials, assistance with site selection & permitting, and further details.

Here is a map presenting results of our work to date.

Here is a PDF with information on personal protection and making a $20 no-sew “INHS Quick Drag”: INHS quick-start tick dragging document

Dr. Holly Tuten, left, who is a vector ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, does field collection of tick specimens in a central Illinois wooded area with Emily Struckhoff, right. The collection methods include dragging a white cloth across the ground, as well as using a carbon dioxide trap which naturally attracts ticks by using carbon dioxide sublimated from dry ice.

Personal Protection While in the Field (right click & open in new tab for larger picture)

$20 no-sew “INHS Quick Drag” (right click & open in new tab for larger picture)

Free Identification Assistance With Tick Submissions to Local Health Departments & Mosquito Abatement Districts

Public health personnel can contact Dr. Holly Tuten for assistance with identifications of ticks. This includes expert identifications of ticks at the INHS Medical Entomology Lab, training in tick identifications, and confirmations of identifications performed by public health staff.

Free Identifications of Loose Ticks for Illinois Citizens

If you are a citizen of Illinois you can send the INHS Medical Entomology Lab infrequently encountered *loose* ticks for identification ONLY (for attached ticks, see bottom of page). We cannot return ticks sent to our lab.

We do not accept ticks that were attached to people or companion animals. We do not test ticks submitted by citizens for disease agents.

For downloads on ticks in Illinois and tick-bite prevention, see our resource page.

Instructions for submitting loose ticks to INHS Medical Entomology Lab

1. Drop tick in plastic bag with a *handful* of *fresh leaves*. Securely seal and *add tape over top* (like duct or packing tape). The fresh plant material and tape keeps the ticks in good condition. You can send multiple ticks from the same person on the same day at the same site in the same bag.

2. Fold a single sheet of printer paper around bag (to prevent crushing).

3. Put in regular envelope. Add single stamp.

4. Add paper with:

— your name and contact information (email/phone number)
— where (like address/city) and the date you *found* the tick
— who the tick was on (like an adult/kid, dog/cat, female/male)
— where you think you actually picked it up (like, a park)
— whether you traveled outside your county in the past 10 days
— Add any other information you want us to know – All information remains confidential.

5. Send via regular mail to: Dr. Holly Tuten, Biocontrol Laboratory, 1902 Griffith Dr., Champaign, IL 61820.

We will identify the tick species, life stage, and sex – and send that information to you soon after receipt. Please include contact information.

For results by mail include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Thank you!

For Attached Ticks

The INHS Medical Entomology Lab is not testing attached ticks for disease agents to return results to individuals right now and **we do not have the means to return ticks** if they are needed for disease agent testing later.

For attached ticks please consult your doctor and share this website with them: www.savethetick.com

For a free photo identification of attached ticks see: https://tickencounter.org/tickspotters/submit_form

For attached ticks on pets, please consult your vet and share this website with them: https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/180915w.aspx

Picture of adult female lone star tick
Adult female lone star tick