As the leaves change colour and the temperature cools, the number of black-legged ticks crawling around our region grows.

“This is when they are most active and...if you will, looking for food,” says Jeremy Hogeveen from the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

The health unit says ticks are heartier than you think and will still be out and feeding into the start of the winter months.

“They are looking for one last meal before winter but at this point they will feed up into December.”

Hogeveen says approximately 500 ticks have been brought into the health unit by residents this year for surveillance. It’s the highest number to date.

“When we get those ticks brought to us we will actually go look to see where they acquired those ticks and this is the first time we have actually found 31 through our own surveillance,” Hogeveen says.

That’s a red flag for health officials.

“It’s just starting to show us that they are creeping up all over. We are finding them in Newberry and Komoka and we are also getting them submitted all over the county and the city as well.”

Hogaveen says the cooler temperatures, which means warmer clothing, adds an added advantage for ticks to hide on people, so it’s very important to check yourself and your family for ticks after being outdoors.

“If you’re bit by one and it stays attached and feeding for more than 24 hours and it has Lyme disease, that’s unfortunately the way it gets transmitted to you. So removing that tick - and we are talking the black legged tick - removing that before 24 hours reduces your chance of having Lyme disease.”

The health unit adds if you’re going to be outdoors in long grass or wooded areas use bug spray containing deet for extra protection.