The TickApp: Tickborne Disease Citizen Science

What is the Study About?

In two words, Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans after a tick bite. This study is designed to help us understand more about how people’s practices and activities impact their exposure to ticks. This research is being done because Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease (infections transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, sandflies, etc) in the United States. The information provided will help us design integrated control strategies to prevent diseases transmitted by ticks.

Who Can Participate?

Our research team is seeking participation by individuals living in a high-risk area for Lyme disease.

Sharing your experience and perspective with us will help us learn about the risk factors for tick borne disease and design better methods that prevent tick bites and tick-borne disease. We really appreciate your input!

Anyone can download and use the TickApp on their smartphone, even if you do not want to participate in the research.

How can you help us?

Once you download the app and register for an account, you will be asked to take one enrollment survey that will help us capture your baseline risk of exposure to ticks.

You will then receive a weekly to monthly message to start your tick diary during the high risk months (May to September). The tick diary, or activity report, should take less than a minute to complete. It asks if you or a household member encountered a tick and what you did that day. When you start the tick diary, you will receive a daily reminder until you complete 15 reports.

Also, you can help us by reporting any tick through a quick form built in the app.

About the App

The TickApp has many interactive features:

By using these features within this application, you are assisting in our research to better understand how and where people are becoming exposed to ticks. This will help us design better prevention strategies that reduce your exposure to ticks. The Tick App also provides information on how to remove ticks, prevent tick bites, and general information about ticks. If available, information is also provided about blacklegged / deer tick activity in your area.

Daily Log

The daily log entry is very short (it only takes 30 seconds a day!) and we ask: what you did that day, if you used any protective measures against ticks, and if you found any ticks.

Report a Tick

You can use this feature to report a tick any time and for as many ticks as you find. You will complete a report for each tick you finding using a short form. This form asks who had the tick, where you think you were when you picked up the tick, and what activity you were doing at the time. You can also share a picture of the tick if you still have it.


You will receive a weekly reminder to start completing daily logs for 15 days. You will receive daily reminders to complete them until you finish logs for 15 days. The daily reminders will stop after you complete 15 entries and get you gold medal! However, you can fill in as many diaries as you want. You earn your platinum medal after completing 21 daily logs!

You can turn or reminders in the Notifications for applications in your phone settings.

Tick Activity

You can use tick activity information to remind yourself and your friends to use tick bite prevention methods. You can also use the information to see what life stage of the Lyme transmitting tick is primarily active, like the teeny tiny nymph or the easier to see adult. Current tick activity uses the date and your location to find if blacklegged (a.k.a deer) ticks are known to be very active during this period or not. Your current location is used if you have location services turned on, otherwise it uses your default profile information.

Why are we using location services on your phone?

To improve your user experience, you can enable location services in your phone to make use of two location based features:

  • Tick Activity
  • Location based alerts (only available in Staten Island, NY)

These features provide you with information about blacklegged (a.k.a deer) ticks in the state your are currently at. Also, when you leave your location services on, you help us identify how much time people spent in high and low risk areas. This information is confidential, and not directly linked to any other personal information.

How to stop and start location services? The Tick App can track your location, your phone should have prompted you to turn it on or off. If you are not sure, go to the Location settings for application in your phone settings.

Partnering with Local Health Agencies

This free smartphone app can be used as a passive surveillance tool tracking tick exposure across communities. As of May 2020, our TickApp has more than 3,000 user downloads. As more people participate in the TickApp, we can better understand tick exposure patterns over time in specific locations.

In 2020, our team is planning to partner with health agencies across the Northeast to promote use of the TickApp and share tick encounter data aggregated at the zip code level. These data can help health agencies identify tick risk in their communities.

If you are part of a state or local health agency and would like to partner with us on this project, please reach out to the Northeast project lead, Dr. Maria Diuk-Wasser at