Like mosquitoes, ticks are vectors, or transmitters, of disease. Though extremely serious, mosquito-borne disease affects only a few thousand individuals in the US each year, while tick-borne disease afflicts tens of thousands.
Unlike mosquitoes, ticks do not grab a blood meal and go on their way. Ticks have beak-like projections that plunge into the skin of their host. Depending on its type, a tick may feed on the host’s blood for hours, days or even weeks. If you find a tick on you, please follow this guide from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and remove it promptly. To reduce the risk of getting a tick on your property, you can utilize professional tick control services.
Lyme disease, named after the Connecticut town in which it was found, has been growing in numbers and affects more parts of the country than it did just 7-10 years ago. The Centers of Disease Control state that is it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States and some estimates say that with the rate of illnesses going unreported to the CDC, that Lyme cases could be as high as 300,000 a year!
Blacklegged ticks carry the Lyme bacteria and transmit it to humans. They can be found in any area of the country where there is a large population of deer. Deer are the vehicles for ticks, carrying them from one location to another. Ticks are most active during May, June and July, but will be out whenever the temperatures are warm enough.
Not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease, so if you get a tick bite, it doesn’t mean that you definitely have Lyme. If you find a tick on you, promptly remove it and place it in a plastic bag in case it needs to be tested. Take any signs or symptoms of Lyme seriously and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. The earlier Lyme disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Being observant and being aware of ticks (and using tick control if necessary) is the best way to protect yourself from Lyme. Here are some tips:
- When walking or hiking outdoors, stay in the middle of paths and avoid tall grass
- Where long-sleeved shirts and pants. Light colors will make it easier for you to see any ticks that have landed on your clothing
- Wash clothing in hot water and use a high heat dryer to eliminate any ticks left on your clothing
- Do a full-body tick check after coming inside, making sure to look at those hard to see areas like behind the knees and in the armpits.
- Tuck pant legs into socks to refuse ticks an entry point.Spray clothing and any exposed skin with a product containing 20 percent DEET.
Clothing and other gear, but not skin, can be treated with Permethrin, which will kill
ticks and mosquitoes on contact and should last through several washings. Check
carefully for ticks after being outdoors.
The 6 C’s to Tick-Proof Your Yard
1. 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. Separate them
with wood chips or gravel. Don’t position playground equipment, decks and patios
near treed areas.
2. Clean. Eliminate leaf litter and brush by cleaning it up around the house and
lawn edges, mow tall grasses and keep your lawn short.
3. Choose plants. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/
or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local
nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
4. Check hiding places. Know tick hiding places and check them frequently.
Fences, brick walls and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
5. Care for family pets. Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease 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
6. Call the pros. Professionals utilize both barrier sprays that can kill live ticks
on the spot as well as “tick tubes.” Strategically placed, “tick tubes” prompt field
mice to incorporate tick-killing material in their bedding, effectively eliminating
hundreds of tick nymphs found in each mouse nest.
Stay safe this season!