Again it’s the time of year. Ticks seem all over the place. Every time I work outside, I find these on me. A few weeks ago, my family went camping and found at least two dozen ticks on our tent after returning from a walk in the woods. Ticks are a nuisance and are also a threat to pets and humans. Luckily, there are things that we can do to manage our area’s tick population and to control how they affect us.
Ticks are parasites that both animals and humans hold on to the skin to suck their host’s blood. This can cause nasty infections which can result in sepsis and other serious health problems. Additionally, ticks bear severe illnesses including Lyme disease, spotted Rocky Mountain fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, and Babesiosis. Some of these illnesses can be fatal if not quickly treated. Because of these possible health risks, it’s crucial for us to be vigilant in managing ticks and alert when a bite occurs.
Overall Population in Your Area
The number of ticks you’ll see is dependent on a few different variables in your area. Usually, a great deal of moisture and a mild winter will increase the overall tick population. The tick life cycle starts with the egg, and one tick can lay between 2000 and 18,000 eggs anywhere. You can start by eliminating the eggs to control the population. Many types of ticks lay eggs indoors in carpets and other materials, while other types lay eggs on the ground in outdoor protected areas. If you find the area where eggs were laid, you can spread salt over the area to destroy the eggs, or immediately burn them! When you scatter it inside over a carpet, either vacuum the salt after about a week or take the carpet outside carefully and burn it.
There are more steps you can take to help manage the ticks in your home and at home. Pets are a primary concern. Ticks on dogs and cats are often brought into the home. Be sure to use a flea and tick medication, or a flea and tick collar to treat your pets. It will help monitor these pests until they make it into the home. Furthermore, there are contact sprays that you can use to kill ticks on your lawn and landscape before they get into your home. Sprays like Talstar can kill any ticks it comes in contact with. There is no residual though, and it must be reapplied many times during the active season.
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
If you’re ready for a hiking or camping trip in the wilderness, there are additional precautions that will help ensure you stay clear of ticks. Insect repellent with Deet is a popular alternative for repelling ticks from your skin and clothing. The best option for clothing treatment though is a chemical called permethrin. This product is used exclusively for clothes and is allowed to dry. The drug can kill ticks within 30 seconds of contact after an application, and it is usually successful until the clothing is washed. If you don’t like the idea of chemicals, you can buy bracelets which do a good job of repelling most insects. Subsonic devices are also available which use sound waves to repel insects. Many natural insect repellents can be found, but the general opinion is that they are not as successful as synthetic products.
What to do with a Bite?
When a tick has bitten you, you need to be careful when you extract it. It could leave the head hidden under your skin if you literally just take it off. ,This can cause an infection, which can add more to the disease risk. For years, the most effective way to kill a tick has been to strike a match, blow it out and use the head of the hot match to burn the tick. This would have triggered the tick to come out of the skin. Often, though, it made the tick dig deeper. Some people would smother the tick with Vaseline or fingernail polish but this induced a similar reaction. The worst thing you can do is squeeze the tick, as it allows the parasite to release its internal fluids into your bloodstream. Wetting a Q-tip is the safest choice, and then moving the tick’s body gently in circles until it escapes from the fur.
Ticks are pests which are harmful and must be taken seriously. But if you take the right precautions, there’s no need to let them ruin your summer. If necessary, do what you can to regulate the population, protect your pets and yard and use repellent to keep them off your body. Perform a ‘tick test’ every time you come in from outside, and safely remove ticks you find right away. You can easily enjoy the outdoors with these acts, and avoid ticks from entering the equation.