This time of year brings out weekend warriors who love working in their gardens and yard on the weekends and in the evenings. It’s also the season for sitting on bleachers watching ball games, or camping in the woods.
If you fall into any of those categories – or are outside on a regular basis, period – make sure you’re checking regularly for ticks. You can feel mosquito bites almost as soon as they happen, but ticks are much less easy to spot.
Deer (or “Black-legged”) tick nymphs (newly hatched) are already very active this year. This is the tick that spreads Lyme Disease. The tiny larvae are hungry and are searching for hosts. Because of their miniscule size, they’re quite difficult to spot. While larval ticks don’t carry any diseases yet because they have just emerged from the egg and haven’t eaten a blood meal, it’s best to stay on the safe side and check yourself thoroughly any time you’ve been outdoors.
It’s very important to be aware of, and practice, preventive techniques for picking up ticks on your skin, hair, or clothing. Here are some things you can do:
1) Start by being aware of the potential if you’re working or roaming in brushy areas. After coming inside, have someone else help you check for ticks in the spots you can’t see yourself (such as your scalp or back).
2) After being outside, don’t throw your dirty clothes into the laundry basket; instead, put them directly in the washer on the hottest water setting suitable for that fabric. If an item of clothing isn’t dirty, at least throw it in the dryer for 10 minutes so the heat will kill any lingering ticks.
3) If Lyme Disease is suspected, seek medical advice immediately. Untreated Lyme Disease can result in serious long-term health issues.
4) Diseases transferred from ticks can also kill your pets. Check your dogs and cats regularly to be sure they don’t have a hitchhiker or two.
5) Cut back tick-friendly vegetation around your yard, or have a landscaper do so. Don’t allow long grass to grow unchecked, as ticks love grassy, bushy areas often shaded by trees. Ticks hate the sun (and love high humidity), so try to let the sun in to as many spots in your yard as possible. Eliminate dead brush and leaves, as ticks love dark, damp areas.
6) Stack your firewood neatly in a dry place. Moist logs provide a haven for ticks.
7) Clean and check under bird feeders regularly, as ticks like to nest there undisturbed.
8) Hire a professional (like us!) to apply a safe, kid and pet-friendly pesticide in late spring to early summer (right about now), to prevent ticks from populating your lawn. Just a single treatment in your yard can cut the tick population by over 50%. Stay away from the ones with dangerous chemicals!
9) If you DO find a tick attached to your body or that of a loved one, remove it carefully with tweezers. Don’t squeeze it, as this could aid in the spread of a disease such as Lyme.
10) You can make a citrus-based natural tick repellent by boiling two cups of water, then adding two chopped lemons, limes, oranges, or grapefruit. Let it boil for a minute, then simmer for an hour. Separate the fruit, let the liquid cool, then pour into a sprayer and voila – you have an effective way of keeping the ticks at bay. (They hate citrus.)
We’ve been busy doing quite a few tick control applications over the last few weeks, so if you want to be proactive and keep your kids, pets, and others safe from a tick infestation, give us a call. We’d be happy to come on out to your home or office.