Living on Long Island, you’re guaranteed to hear about ticks and the diseases they can cause, but how much do you really know about protecting yourself from these tiny troublemakers? Ticks are external parasites which feed on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Ticks are typically found outdoors and are most active during the warmer months of the year (April through September). In addition to their parasitic nature, ticks often carry harmful diseases including Lyme Disease (which a reported 300,000 people contract each year) and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to name a couple.
How do you get ticks on you?
Ticks seek out hosts (often waiting for days or weeks) in many different ways, such as by sensing a host’s breath, body odor, body heat, moisture, or vibrations. After a tick attaches itself to a host, the tick has a blood meal which provides the nourishment it needs to mature to its next life stage, starting from the larva stage, to the nymph stage, all the way to the adult stage.
What are the different types of ticks?
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is found primarily in deciduous forests throughout the eastern and upper-midwestern regions of the United States. Deer ticks attach and feed on hosts of their choosing, typically larger animals such as deer, in addition to humans. Deer ticks often linger on the tips of branches of low-growing shrubs, eagerly awaiting their hosts’ arrivals. Deer ticks are known to carry Lyme Disease, and Babesiosis, a life-threatening infection of the red blood cells.
The dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) is often found in the eastern half of the United States in areas with little to no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrubland, and along walkways and trails. Dog ticks feed on a variety of hosts, including smaller hosts such as mice, as well as larger hosts like deer, and everything in between. The dog tick can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.
The lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum) lives in the eastern and midwestern regions of the United States. The lone star tick hangs out in thick underbrush or high grass to attach to its host by way of questing. Questing is an activity in which a tick climbs up a blade of grass to the edges of the leaves, stretches its front legs forward in response to stimuli from the host, and mounts the passing host as it brushes against the tick’s legs. Once attached, the lone star tick is able to move around and select a preferred feeding site. Its bites are painless and often go unnoticed, sometimes allowing it to remain attached to its host for a full week. Lone star ticks aren’t picky; as aggressive feeders, they actively pursue blood meals and aren’t too particular about the species of their hosts. The lone star tick can cause a human to develop a red meat allergy, tularemia, and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), among other diseases.
Enjoy your backyard by following these 7 steps to tick prevention:
Wear long clothing.
Covering up with long sleeves and long pants when you’re in your backyard will help prevent ticks from latching onto your skin, which can cause bites, swelling, soreness, or worse. Being fully dressed during the heat of summer might be uncomfortable, however it’s a cost-effective way to prevent unpleasant tick bites.
Avoid wooded areas.
As mentioned, ticks prefer lush areas and high grass, making these obvious areas to avoid. One way to reduce the tick population in your backyard is to keep your grass and foliage cut low. This preventative measure will help keep ticks away, ensuring a better time for you in your backyard this summer!
Tuck your pants into your socks.
Ticks will latch onto your exposed skin if they are able. To prevent that from happening, tuck your pants into your socks when you are in grassy areas where ticks might linger, minimizing the amount of exposed skin that’s available to them.
Check yourself, your kids, and your pets after coming inside.
The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) encourages you to check for ticks after spending time outdoors, suggesting the use of a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Thoroughly check yourself, your children, your pets, and your clothes after going back into your house. Washing any articles of clothing with ticks on them and drying those items on high heat will effectively kill the ticks.
Wear light-colored clothing.
If you’re planning to spend some time in your backyard, consider wearing light-colored clothing which will better allow you to notice and get rid of any ticks that might end up on your clothing.
Keep your hair covered and pulled back.
Covering and pulling back your hair can minimize the chances of ticks getting inside your hair and attaching themselves onto your scalp. When wearing a head covering such as a hat, be sure to check that hat when you go inside to remove any ticks that may have landed on it. And of course, regularly washing your hair is a sure-fire way to check yourself for ticks.
Shower immediately after hanging out near trees or high grass.
If you’ve spent time outside near trees or high grass, the CDC advises you to take a bath or shower as soon as you come in (preferably within two hours). If you have a habit of showering immediately after being in an area that’s likely tick-infested, such as trees, shrubs, or high grass, showering right away will reduce the likelihood of disease transmission via an unnoticed tick.
How to get rid of ticks from your property
Preventing ticks from infesting areas near your home comes down to one simple solution—making your property unsuitable for ticks! There are many things you can do to prevent or eliminate ticks from your property but, to truly ensure your family, pets, and home are safe, your best bet is to have a professional implement an effective solution.
Suburban Exterminating is an award-winning pest control company that can provide long-lasting pest control solutions to get rid of ticks and other pests in Long Island, New York. With highly trained, licensed technicians, Suburban Exterminating can get rid of ticks and other pests from your property. Call us now for an immediate quote.