PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A very wet 2018, followed by an already wet and dreary 2019 could lead to a big tick season experts say.

Not only could the tick season be especially tough, it could be earlier than normal thanks to all the wet weather.

Pennsylvania is the worst state in the nation when it comes to tick-borne illnesses, with more than 10,000 Lyme disease cases reported Lyme cases according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Thanks to residual winter moisture and predicted rain ahead for most of the U.S. this spring and summer, pest populations are expected to spike earlier than usual,” says the National Pest Management Association’s bi-annual Bug Barometer.

NPMA says the northeast, including Pennsylvania, had a cold, rainy spring and an early summer will allow tickets to thrive due to favorable humidity, and will keep rodents indoors as they look for warm, dry conditions to nest.

“While regions across the country were either unseasonably cold or warm this past winter, there’s one factor that almost all of them had in common – excessive moisture,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the NPMA.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is conducting a five-year environmental surveillance of ticks across the state.

The survey started in July 2018 as part of the Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Task Force recommendations for combating the growing incidence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

The NPMA also has information on avoiding tick bites:

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses.
  • Choose light colored clothing that makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
  • Wear a bug spray containing at least 20 percent DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
  • Take steps to keep your yard tick-free. Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
  • Check yourself closely for ticks after being outdoors.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites, such as a telltale red bull’s eye rash around a bite. If you suspect a tick has bitten you, seek medical attention.
  • Learn the symptoms of the most common tick-borne illnesses and consult with your doctor immediately if you believe you are ill following a tick bite.