Tick populations seem to be growing more and more each year, and it’s no secret a tick bite can have serious consequences. Tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are known to be very hard to diagnose and treat. So what can you do, short of shutting yourself and your pets in the house? To start; avoid the areas that ticks live in, know the ways to keep them off of you and know how to handle them if one latches onto your skin.
Q: What types of areas are ticks normally found in?
A: These nasty little critters love to hide out in tall grasses and leaves. Be extremely vigilant in protecting yourself anytime you go into wooded, brushy areas or areas that are dark and moist – even your own backyard!
Q: When are ticks most active?
A: There is really no time of year you cannot be bitten by a tick, but ticks are definitely more active between April and September, in places that have seasonal climate change.
Q: How do ticks get on me? Do they jump like fleas or do they fly?
A: Ticks do not have the ability to jump or fly, so direct contact is the only way. Once on you, they crawl slowly and unnoticed until they find warm skin that they can bite.
Q: If I don’t go to the ticks, how do they get to me?
A: Dogs, cats, and other animals can provide a handy transportation system for ticks. Check your pets regularly as they come in and out of the house, to see if they may have picked up any unwanted, eight-legged disease-carrying hitchhikers. Pets can be treated with tick repellents that are very effective, relatively safe, and easy to apply, but that may not be enough.
Q: If I hike or just enjoy the outdoors, how can I avoid ticks?
A: Sticking to trails and sunny areas when possible may help. (Ticks, especially the nymphs, need moisture and generally avoid the sun.)
Q: Is there any type of tick repellent or spray?
A: Pump action sprays or lotions that contain 20 – 30% Deet can be effective for preventing ticks from touching your skin, but it must be noted these chemicals have properties that could be harmful to children and pets.
Q: I don’t want to put chemicals on me or my children. Is there anything else I can do to protect myself from tick bites?
A: Absolutely. You can cover up as much of your body as possible and wear light-colored clothing. Ticks have a hard time biting through even thin clothing, so everyplace you cover up helps. In warmer months, you can wear comfortable shirts made of dry-wicking material so you don’t get too hot. Wearing light-colored clothing enables you to spot even the smaller size ticks and remove them before they have a chance to bite you.
Q: Since ticks are so small, how will I even know they are on me?
A: Take a fresh and sticky lint roller and rub it over your family’s clothing to be sure there are no ticks on you; they will stick nicely to this inexpensive tool.
Q: What can I do when I get back from being in an area that is known to have ticks?
A: Do a check of you and your children’s clothing and skin before going into the house. Once inside, immediately put all the clothes in the dryer on high heat for 40 – 60 minutes; this will kill most ticks if the clothing is not wet. Make sure you take a shower right away too, to give yourself a chance to wash off any ticks that are on your skin. Then do a full-body scan with a mirror just to be sure.
Q: What do I do if I have been bitten by a tick?
A: It is important to remove ticks as soon as possible, because the longer they stay on your body the more harm they can do. Take a pair of tweezers and grab the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. Then tweeze tightly and yank quickly away from the body to most effectively remove the tick.
Q: After I remove the tick, what should I still be concerned about?
A: You need to watch for such things as an infection or rash near the bite area, or if you start to show other symptoms, such as an unexpected summer fever. If any of these occur, the Lawn Doctor strongly recommends that you seek medical attention from your family physician.
These suggestions are a great start to avoid and detect ticks before they can harm you. For more information, you can also visit the CDC’s website or look through our Yard Armour® resources and articles for other useful tick prevention information.