GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD)– Experts say there is an increase in ticks and tick-borne illnesses across the country.

24 Hour News 8 spoke with Jack Den Uyl from the Mosquito Squad of West Michigan and Grand Rapids Saturday morning for tips on how to protect yourself and home.

A list of tips from “The Squad”:

CLEAR OUT: Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Locate compost piles away from play areas or high traffic areas. Separate paths or play areas with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios near treed areas. Experts also recommend rubber mulch under playground sets and faux turf for smaller areas that take a lot of wear.

CLEAN: Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short. Keeping your yard clean means more than just a spring and fall clean up. Before you mow, take a walk around your house and yard to determine what needs to be fixed, cut or thrown away.

CHOOSE PLANTS: If you have deer in your area, you likely have ticks. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Experts recommend bellflower, corydalis and big root geraniums, but check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.

CHECK HIDING PLACES: Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places. Rake, and keep yard trash and plants at least 12 inches away from the fences, walls and foundations.

CARE FOR FAMILY PETS: Family pets can suffer from Lyme and other tick-borne diseases and also carry infected ticks into the home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays. As with all pest control products, be sure to follow directions carefully. If you personally wouldn’t spend time in your yard due to ticks, then please, don’t send your pets out there. Be sure to check your dog each time they are in the yard, so ticks don’t make their way into the house.