HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Keeping ticks at bay this year may be harder than before.

The blood-sucking parasites and the disease carried are on the rise in Ohio. It’s in part due to climate change, ticks expanding to other regions and more animals living close to people, according to an educator with Ohio State University Extension.

“Avoid tick areas, which would be woods, brushy areas, tall grass,” said Sara Cochrane an Environmental Health Coordinator at Summit County Public Health (SCPH). “If there is a path, try to stay in the middle of it.”

Ohio reports 66 cases of Lyme disease so far this year, according to SCPH, where experts expect to see the biggest increase in cases during July and August.

“Lyme disease symptoms can appear from three to 30 days, so the individuals can be bitten in June or July,” Cochrane said.

People heading outdoors can take precautions now, including wearing light-colored clothing that is long-sleeved when in areas prevalent to ticks.

The key to repelling ticks from lawns is maintaining a neat yard, according to Highland Garden Center in Highland Heights.

“In most cases, if people maintain a weed-free garden, yard and keep everything mowed and clipped, it does a much better job at maintaining the tick population,” said nursery manager Carl Vranek.

Aside from chemical controls to keep ticks away, nature has a few alternatives that can help.

“Plants with odors, tend to help considerably,” said Vranek. “Things like marigolds for annuals, perennials, salvia has a very fragrant odor to the foliage. Lavender, plants like that helped tremendously,” Vranek said.

As ticks become more widespread, people who think they may have been bitten can get additional guidance from Summit County Public Health on what diseases to monitor.

“Take a picture of it, email or they can always bring it into our office and we can say, ‘these are the diseases that this tick carries. We recommend you watch out for these symptoms,'” said Cochrane.

Cochrane encouraged anyone curious about what repellants work best to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendations.