Get Ready for Tick Season
As disease carriers, ticks are the crown princes of pestilence. Second only to the king of all disease-carrying bugs – the mosquito – ticks are hazardous to the health of your family, your pets, and yourself. Get ready for tick season and protect the ones you love.
If you spend any time outdoors, you are at risk for picking up a tick. They cover the country; no area is unaffected. Most active when the weather is warm, adult ticks are parasitic arachnids that feed on blood. They aren’t very picky about their hosts. They will make a meal of a dog, a snake, a farm animal, or a person with equal enthusiasm.
Ticks can’t fly but they can make short hops well enough. Typically, they just hop onto the closest host they can find. They hide on grasses or weeds, ready for the next warm, carbon dioxide exhaling creature to brush past. Once aboard, they will seek out the warm, dark, moist places like your hairline, armpit, waistband, or groin. When they find the best real estate, they’ll latch on and start to suck blood.
Mosquitos bite and flee but ticks stick around. They attach very firmly and will feed for days until they finally become so engorged that they are swollen several times their previous size. In this process, some of the tick’s saliva will mix into the tiny wound and this is how pathogens can be introduced into the host.
Protecting yourself and your family starts with pest control measures and common sense.
- Cover up when you’re outdoors. Long sleeves and pants may not let you get a tan but they will give a tick less access to your skin. Change clothes as soon as you come inside.
- Give your pets preventative medications to kill any ticks that may try to bite them.
- Clean kennels and cages regularly.
- Keep your grass trimmed. Ticks like long grasses and weeds so use the weed whacker and mower with regularity.
- Borax powder and diatomaceous earth powder are natural methods that can help eradicate ticks. Sprinkle in tick-prone areas.
- Examine yourself, your children, and your pets after you’ve spent time outdoors.
If you do find a tick, remove it as quickly as possible but do it the right way. Use tweezers or forceps to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as you can. Pull away from the skin but don’t bend or twist the tick. Check to see if any mouth parts have been left behind. Wash with alcohol or soap and water. Keep an eye on the bite for a few days to see if infection or a “bull’s eye” rash (a common symptom of Lyme disease) develops. Fever, chills, aches, or any other symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately.
Be ready for the onset of tick season so your family won’t fall prey to this disease-ridden biter.