MILTON (CBS Local) – Americans are happy to shed their coats after a long and harsh winter, but you may still want to consider keeping your skin covered up even as it gets warm. One expert is warning people that a “tick explosion” will be waiting for them this summer.

“They’re up and looking for a host hoping something will walk by that they can latch on,” Dr. Thomas Mather said, via WHIO. The director of the University of Rhode Island’s tick-borne disease center warns that the U.S. is moving into the prime season for the disease-carrying insects, which are commonly found in grassy areas and on wild animals.

The New England specialist’s website, tickencounter.org, is calling for high tick activity this year in the Eastern United States. “It’s very important because around here it’s the worst for Lyme disease more than anywhere else in the nation,” Dr. Mather added. The Midwest, Plains states, and West Coast are also being warned about increased tick populations this summer.

Lyme disease, commonly carried by deer ticks in the Northeast, can leave victims with flu-like symptoms and a bullseye-shaped rash near the tick bite. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread infections to the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Other health experts are warning Americans to keep an eye on their pets when they go outdoors; as dogs and cats are a common target for ticks when running through grass. “You are not going to see them very easily. You could have ten ticks on a dog and it would be hard to find them,” Dr. Mike Hutchinson said, via CBS Pittsburgh. “The classic areas are inside the ear flaps, under the armpits, inside the groin. Those are easier places to find ticks.”