(James Gathany/AP)

Summertime is almost here, and impending camps, cookouts and vacations mean more time spent outdoors. That comes with the risk of tick bites — and tick-borne diseases.

Those diseases have been on the rise in recent years, with steady increases in both frequency and distribution. Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and other diseases can be passed along by these ectoparasites, and different critters carry different pathogens.

If you’re curious about — or just plain scared of — ticks, a visit to the TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC) website can help. Affiliated with the University of Rhode Island, TERC is an online clearinghouse for information on the blood-feeding creatures.

Staffed by researchers, the site provides the latest in tick information. It has plenty of suggestions on how to protect yourself, your pets and your yard from ticks, including pointers on using clothing to repel the pests. Check out a question-and-answer section about tick identification, habitats and cleanup. A blog also covers ticks during all seasons.

If you do encounter a tick despite your best efforts, the site has help. Its free Tickspotter service will ID photos of ticks. If you were bitten by a tick and want to know whether it carried pathogens, you can submit it for low-cost testing.

The center uses the data it collects to help monitor nationwide tick trends and inform disease response. It’s approachable, too, helping demystify the arachnids.

With a bit of TERC savvy, you can resist the negative effects of ticks — even if they do suck your blood.