As the weather gets warmer, it’s important to be on the lookout for ticks in the yard, on our pets and near wooded, brushy areas.
If the bloodsucking arachnids are left around for too long, ticks can cause serious diseases such as Lyme Disease or the rare Powassan virus.
How to prevent ticks
“Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas,” mosquito and tick expert Russ Jundt said.
So, you can prevent ticks by making cleanliness (and avoiding those moist, shady areas) a big priority during the warmer months -- declutter your house, clean the yard and do both often, sanitizing every nook and crevice in your home.
In addition to simply avoiding very wooded or brushy areas, removing wood piles and keeping grasses and weeds in your yard trimmed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a repellent.
Repellants with at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin or IR3535 should be used on exposed skin.
And for on-clothing repellents, choose products with permethrin.
Not sure which insect repellent is right for you? The Environmental Protection Agency has a nifty tool to help you navigate the world of repellents and find the right choice.
If you’re worried about ticks on your pets, try using a flea/tick collar, which has a natural repellent, or tick sprays.
The brand Bayer Seresto has collar options for both cats and dogs and has garnered top ratings on Amazon.
But the best prevention is to keep your yards, bushes and trees trimmed and to check your pets often (especially behind their ears).
If you have more questions about preventing ticks on pets, ask your local veterinarian for safe products.
How to find and get rid of ticks
Planet Natural recommends wearing light-colored clothing when hanging around outside to better identify ticks.
After being outdoors in possibly tick-infested areas, take a shower within two hours and then search for ticks.
If you suspect ticks found their way to your clothing or bedspreads, wash everything in hot water for 10 minutes.
Check your body (and your kids' and pets' bodies) regularly, focusing on areas such as the underarms, in and around ears, in hair, inside the belly button, behind knees, between legs and around the waist, the CDC advises.
If you find a tick (or two), the CDC recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as closely to the skin's surface as possible and steadily pull upward to avoid causing the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.
If the mouth-parts do break off, remove them with tweezers. And if you can’t remove the mouth-parts, just leave it alone and let the skin heal by itself.
Once you’ve removed the tick, clean the bite area and wash your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
If the tick is still alive, submerge it in alcohol, place it in a sealed bag or container and wrap it tightly in tape before you throw it in the trash.
You can also flush the tick down the toilet, but the CDC does not recommend crushing the bug with your fingers.
If you think you need a professional, do your research to find professional fumigators to treat your home or, if you’re renting, refer to your leasing office, landlord or community members for resources.
For more information on tick prevention, removal and how to identify symptoms of tick bites, visit CDC.gov.
Credit: Lauree Feldman
Credit: Lauree Feldman
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