Tick bites are serious because ticks can carry a number of illnesses that infect humans and animals. Most notably, ticks carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever but also anaplasmosis, babesiosis, borrelia, ehrlichiosis and others. With the exception of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the rest are commonly referred to as Lyme and co-infections as in many cases, these illnesses co-occur with Lyme infection. The most important thing you can do is prevent tick bites before they happen.
Where Do Ticks Live?
Ticks live in grassy, bushy and wooded areas. They often hide in leafy debris and tall grasses but can be as close as your own back yard. You can encounter ticks if you are gardening, camping, playing in the yard or even just walking your dog. It’s important to check yourself and your dog frequently for ticks when you’ve been outside. Also, make sure your dog or pet is on a flea and tick preventative throughout the season (April-September).
Preventing Ticks Before You Go Outside
This can be the most important step in preventing tick bites. Preparation is prevention!
1. Treat clothing and any outdoor or camping gear with a tick-prevention product containing 0.5% permethrin. Treat boots or shoes, clothing, camping gear and bags or backpacks. You can also buy clothing and gear that has been pre-treated with permethrin.
2. In addition to permethrin, use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE). Follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter.
3. Avoid contact with ticks. Avoid wooded areas, bushy areas, tall grasses and leafy debris where ticks prefer to hide out. Stay in the center of walking or hiking trails to avoid ticks in the brush along the trail.
Preventing Tick Bites When You Come Inside
After being outdoors and in areas where you might have come in contact with ticks, there are several important steps to take to protect yourself from tick bites. Also keep in mind that young ticks can be very small and difficult to see. Use a magnifying glass, if you can.
1. Check your clothing, gear, and pet for ticks immediately when you come in.
2. Toss dry clothes in the dryer and run on hot/high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on clothing. If clothes are wet or sweaty, run on high heat until they’re dry and run an extra 10 minutes on high heat. If clothes need to be washed, use hot water as cold or warm water does not kill ticks.
3. Shower within two hours using the hottest water you can comfortably stand. Make sure to wash your hair and check for ticks as you shower.
4. Do a full body check for ticks. Check under the arms, in and around the hair, in and around ears, inside the belly button, between the legs, the back of knees, around the waist and between the toes. Make sure everyone, including children and pets, gets a full body check for ticks.
Preventing tick bites is important because of all the illnesses and diseases they carry. Preventing ticks before you go out with repellents and avoiding tick-infested areas helps as well as checking everything and everyone for ticks when you come in. If you are having a tick problem in your yard, call The Pest Force to discuss possible solutions and yard treatments that can help reduce the tick population in your yard.