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This photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick, a carrier of Lyme disease. James Gathany/AP hide caption

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James Gathany/AP

Tick Check! The Tiny Bloodsuckers In Our Backyards

Short Wave is going outside every Friday this summer! In this second episode of our series on the National Park system, we head to Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas. Among the trees and trails, researchers like Adela Oliva Chavez search for blacklegged ticks that could carry Lyme disease. She's looking for answers as to why tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease are spreading in some parts of the country and not others. Today: What Adela's research tells us about ticks and the diseases they carry, and why she's dedicated her career to understanding what makes these little critters... tick.

Tick Check! The Tiny Bloodsuckers In Our Backyards

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Six common types of adult female ticks. Top row, left to right: Lone Star, black-legged, Asian long-horned. Bottom row, left to right: Gulf Coast, American dog, Rocky Mountain wood (Top row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany/CDC (Bottom row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Patrick Gorring/iNaturalist, Public Health Image Library hide caption

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(Top row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany/CDC (Bottom row, left to right) Public Health Image Library, Patrick Gorring/iNaturalist, Public Health Image Library

Black-legged ticks carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme have been found in the coastal chaparrals surrounding California beaches. James Gathany/CDC via AP hide caption

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James Gathany/CDC via AP

Two ticks in their nymphal stage: At left, the longhorned tick, native to Asia and a recent arrival in the U.S. At right, the lone star tick, found in the eastern United States and in Mexico. Graham Hickling, Center for Wildlife Health, University of Tennessee hide caption

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Graham Hickling, Center for Wildlife Health, University of Tennessee

Time outdoors leaves you vulnerable to tick bites and the diseases they can transmit. New research seeks to a better picture of the geographic spread of ticks that carry dangerous pathogens. Ascent/PKS Media Inc. via Getty Images hide caption

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Ascent/PKS Media Inc. via Getty Images

When ticks come into contact with clothing sprayed with permethrin, research shows, they quickly become incapacitated and are unable to bite. Pearl Mak/NPR hide caption

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Pearl Mak/NPR

To Repel Ticks, Try Spraying Your Clothes With A Pesticide That Mimics Mums

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If you are bitten by a Lone Star tick, you could develop an unusual allergy to red meat. And as this tick's territory spreads beyond the Southeast, the allergy seems to be spreading with it. Robert Noonan/Science Source hide caption

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Robert Noonan/Science Source

Red Meat Allergies Caused By Tick Bites Are On The Rise

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Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can carry Lyme disease. Kenneth H Thomas/Science Source/Getty Images hide caption

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Kenneth H Thomas/Science Source/Getty Images

Lyme Disease Is On The Rise Again. Here's How To Prevent It

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A tick grasping a dinosaur feather is preserved in 99 million-year-old amber from Myanmar. Peñalver et al/Nature Communications hide caption

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Peñalver et al/Nature Communications

Amber-Trapped Tick Suggests Ancient Bloodsuckers Feasted On Feathered Dinosaurs

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The Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia in California includes a comprehensive collection of Pez dispensers. Flickr user Doctor Popular/Flickr Creative Commons hide caption

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Flickr user Doctor Popular/Flickr Creative Commons

From Pez To Ticks, 'Atlas Obscura' Discovers 'Wonderfully Specific' Museums

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast

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