KINGSTION, R.I. (WPRI) — Whether you’re an avid hiker or just love to spend time outdoors, experts are warning everyone to take the proper precautions ahead of deer tick season.

University of Rhode Island entomologist Tom Mather said the fall is when blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are at “their freshest and their hungriest.”

“Most people are quite surprised,” Mather said. “You could do a survey: Most people think ticks die when it gets cold. It’s a surprise that October and November are actually the fifth and sixth ‘tickiest’ months of the year.”

Mather said more than 50% of deer ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, which is why he’s urging Rhode Islanders to protect themselves.

“We haven’t seen any [deer ticks] in Rhode Island just yet, but I’m sure they’ll start coming any day now,” Mather said.

Mather said the first deer tick of the season was found in Vermont late last month via URI’s TickSpotter. Since then, tick sightings have been reported in Ontario, Massachusetts and West Virginia.

The tick population in Rhode Island has been moderate so far this year, according to Mather. He expects the number of adult blacklegged ticks to “soar” until Thanksgiving.

“By then, it’s getting routinely cold enough to keep them from being active,” he explained. “It has to be sustainably cold because if it is below freezing overnight but 40 degrees the next day, these ticks will be out.”

URI suggested the following precautions to prevent tick bites: