"As we kickoff the traditional start to the summer and head outdoors, remember to apply that sunscreen. Oh, and watch for ticks. According to Andrew Li, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist who is leading a new deer tick control program, they’re out in force, too. Experts predict 2017 will see the highest number in years of these sesame-seed-size parasites—also known as “blacklegged ticks”—that spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.Several factors have contributed to the upsurge. A bumper crop of red oak acorn last fall and an overall warmer-than-usual winter in the Midwest and the East added up to a population explosion of white-footed mice, which typically provide deer tick larvae with their first blood meal. Along with this blood, ticks can get the Lyme disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi (B. burgdorferi). The warmer winter also kept some of the tick population from dying during what is usually their dormant period..."