New phone app: ‘your on-the-go tick expert’
With school out, summer finally arriving and outdoor activities in full swing, Michigan State University is helping roll out a new app to increase your knowledge about ticks. “The Tick App” allows you to learn about ticks, track your tick encounters and be a citizen scientist.
MSU researchers worked with scientists at Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin to develop the app to encourage people to participate in a tick exposure behavioral study.
“We hope that the easy to use app will allow users to share their experiences with ticks to help prevent future tick bites, track periods of high tick activity and help identify areas with high tick risk,” said Jean Tsao, associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU and study researcher.
Before accessing the app, users will be asked to take a short survey to gather information about their environment. Tick App participants will also be prompted to log their daily activities and tick encounters during peak tick season. The log is paired with daily reminders, so you won’t forget to check for ticks and tell the researchers about your outdoor activities.
The app also has a report function where users can share information about where the tick was found, who it was found on and what kind of tick they think it is. There’s also the ability to send in photos to receive an expert opinion, or confirmation, on what tick species it is.
“Make sure to take clear photos, so that we can make the most-reliable identification,” said Megan Porter, a graduate student working with Tsao, who has already helped more than 200 people this year learn what kind of ticks they have found on themselves.
The app also provides individuals with information about how to identify different kinds of ticks, ways to prevent tick exposure, and facts about ticks and the diseases they transmit. The activity function provides information on the prominence of blacklegged ticks, or deer ticks, throughout the year.
Download the app for free here or find it on Google Play or the App Store.
For a video tutorial on how to use the app, click here.