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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Ahead of tick season, experts at the University of Rhode Island want to find out if current prevention methods are actually working, or if something needs to change.

As part of that research, they’re asking for the public’s help. Any New England resident is invited to take an online survey and sign up for a free backyard evaluation.

The initiative is dubbed Project ITCH, which stands for “Is Tick Control Helping?”

The survey takes about 10 to 15 minutes and asks residents about their practices in preventing tick exposure and bites. Participants can then agree to the evaluation, which will also analyze mosquitoes.

“If people are paying for residential tick control, who wouldn’t want to know if it’s working?” said Tom Mather, director of URI’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease. “We know from other studies that some measures are more effective than others, but there’s a lack of good information on what works.”

“It’s a Wild West show out there in terms of what people are doing,” Mathers continued. “It would be fine if everything worked equally, but they don’t. So, we really want to corral this Wild West show and try to get people to focus on those things that work.”

URI says the home audits will be conducted starting in June, the peak season for certain tick species. Participants are encouraged to recruit their neighbors to help, since researchers will be looking to compare treated and untreated yards.

To learn more and take the survey, visit the project’s website.

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