Keeping Deer Ticks At Bay Through the Warm Weather
Summer is easily one of the most amazing times of the year. The chance to spend long days outside enjoying yourself is a tantalizing one, but unfortunately, a lurking menace could change all of that –the deer tick. Also known as the black legged tick, deer ticks dot media headlines routinely thanks to Lyme disease. They have the potential to transmit it to every victim they bite, and the results can be nothing short of devastating.
These creatures live throughout both the central and eastern US. They love to feed on deer and rodents, but they don’t mind humans either. They’re quite a bit smaller than dog ticks, coming in at the size of a sesame seed. Their dorsal bodies are black with a reddish tint. The males are smaller than the females, and typically have a dark brown coloration.
Deer ticks live a whopping two years throughout the four life phases. From nymph to adult, they can feed on animal blood. Unfortunately, they have to feed a lot in one session because they’ll eat just three times during their lives – once for each cycle outside of an egg. Once they reach the nymph stage, they can contract the bacteria that is known to cause Lyme disease, passing it on to humans as they eat. It can transmit other diseases as well.
The Lyme Disease Factor
Perhaps what scares people most about deer ticks is the potential to contract Lyme disease through a single bite. While there are ways to prevent it, Lyme disease remains one of the fastest growing conditions of its kind throughout the US. Nearly 14,000 cases are reported each year, but it resembles other conditions, so it’s possible as many as 90% of the cases are completely unreported.
You’re at greatest risk during the months of June and July. If you’re in an area where they are active, find a bite, or you notice a headache, flu symptoms, a bulls-eye rash, or any pain in your joints, it is key that you visit a doctor immediately. Once left untreated, more serious symptoms can develop years later. It can take up to four weeks for the rash to develop.
If you do find a tick, you need to get it off as soon as possible. Once attached for twenty-four hours, they can transmit the bacteria to your body. Grab a good pair of tweezers and pull it directly, but slowly, off of your body. While there are lots of myths that burning it off, using Vaseline on it, putting nail polish on it, or even smearing honey on it will make it release, it can regurgitate inside your blood stream if you traumatize it, and that is almost as bad. Be sure to disinfect the bite once you remove the tick.
Preventing the Problem
While you’re probably not responsible for some places you might pick up ticks, like state parks and other camping areas, you are responsible for your own property, and there are all sorts of ways to prevent ticks where you live. First, keep your grass cut short. Remove any brush that’s near the trail that might attract animals. You can also have the area professionally sprayed to eliminate ticks.