Ticks are small arachnids that live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. A ticks bites is usually painless, and they are tiny, and consequently many people are unaware that they have been bitten. Ticks do not survive in hot, dry areas as it causes their bodies to dry. However, hey can be active when temperatures are above 40F even in the winter.
Clothing & Bedding Tips
When venturing into areas where ticks are known to be wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, tuck pants into socks. Loose hair should be covered, braided or tied when doing any sort of outside outside activities where you might encountered ticks. Once Inside, throw clothing into the dryer, set on high heat. This will ensure no ticks survive on your clothing. Remember to do a tick check, take a shower and wash your hair. Keep pets that have been outside off furniture, especially bedding.
Checking For Ticks
Thorough tick checks should be done daily or when coming in after outside activities when temperatures are warm and you have been in areas where you may have encountered ticks. Check dark, moist areas: hair, cracks behind ears, knees, elbows, underarms, crotch etc. It’s also important to check your pets for ticks when they come into the house.
Ticks should be removed promptly. The longer it is attached the higher the chance of disease transmission. Remove it carefully to prevent disease transmission. Using fine pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible without squeezing the tick’s body. Firmly pull it straight out (expect to feel some resistance). Save the tick for future testing by placing it in a plastic bag or in a small jar of alcohol. If a tick is to tested for spirochetes place it in a small jar or vial with a blade of grass to keep it alive. Be sure to note the date and site of the bite for future reference. Never squeeze the tick, burn it, or cover it with Vaseline or any other substance. Remember to disinfect the site of the bite, wash your hands and disinfect your tweezers. It’s always a great idea to contact your doctor.
Spraying yourself with tick repellant is critical when venturing outside, especially in the woods or while camping. There are many different types of sprays, all with their own specific uses and specialities. Do some research on the spray that works best for what you will be doing.
Ticks are most common in overgrown places where the ground is covered with leaf litter, weeds, and high grass. These are the areas where they are protected from harsh drying effects of sun and wind, and are also where mice and deer live. Ticks can be found on well mowed lawns or in your home, because they dropped off animals or pets that crossed over or entered these areas.
The following methods are suggested to minimize ticks on your property:
- Create tick free zones around your home by cutting back wooded areas and increasing the size of open lawn.
- Keep grass mowed to 3 inches or less. This lowers humidity at ground level, making it difficult for ticks to survive.
- Place play areas in sunshine.
- Remove leaf litter, moist plant litter, brush, weeds and other debris that attract ticks.
- Eliminate dense plant beds close to your home such as ivy and pachysandra.
- Create borders (pebbles, cedar chips) to separate your lawn from the wooded area surrounding it.
- Rock walls, woodpiles, and birdfeeders attract mice and chipmunks which hide, nest and eat spilled food from these sources. Do your best to keep these far from your home.
- Keep garbage in tightly closed cans and don’t leave pet food outside or purposely attract and feed wild animals.
- Reduce plants that attract deer and plant those that they do not eat.
- Scare tactics can be used to keep deer away.
- Soap such as Irish Spring can be used to keep deer from eating plants.
- Ten foot high deer fences can be used to keep them out of property.