Ticks are a spring and summer time hazard. Chances are that you will have at least one tick bite at some point during your life, especially if you enjoy spending time outside hiking, camping or hunting. Ticks are small insects that can be difficult to spot but they spread some serious illnesses and all need to be treated with antibiotics. There are things that you can do to prevent yourself from being bitten by a tick.
Be Careful Where You Go
It is important to avoid areas prone to ticks. If you love to spend time outdoors, you may be thinking that you really do not want to stop going outside just to avoid getting a tick. You can still enjoy time outside and be aware of areas that are more prone to have ticks. After spending time in these areas, just be sure to check yourself carefully. Ticks like areas with long grass, leaf litter and bushes that they can crawl on. You may be safer if you stay on the trail, but you can still get ticks.
Wear Insect Repellent
Insect repellent is one of the best ways to protect yourself from ticks. DEET is one of the most effective insect repellents for ticks and it works well on mosquitoes too. Be sure to apply it before you go into any tick prone areas and to reapply as necessary if you are spending a significant time outside. If you do not want to apply it all over, spraying the bottom on your pants and your wrists and around the collar of your shirt can help prevent ticks from attaching.
Ticks need to attach directly to your skin, so dressing appropriately can make a big difference in how easy it is for a tick to attach to you. They are not face crawlers and so these steps really can make a difference. It is best to wear long pants and long sleeves. Tucking your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks give the ticks fewer places to find a way onto your skin. Some hunters will wear rubber bands around their wrists to close off that additional access point, especially since they are sitting still for hours at a time.
Check for Ticks
It is important to check for ticks in order to protect yourself. You should check your clothing as soon as you leave the area that is prone to ticks. Do this before you get in the car. Just brushing down your arms and legs and even your back will prevent you from bringing any ticks home with you. Once you get home, you should check yourself and shower right away to make sure you do not have any ticks. Check your hair line, along the backs of your knees, between your legs and under your arms for ticks.
Treat Your Yard
Another way you can protect yourself is to treat your yard for ticks. Treating your yard will mean that you do not have to worry about picking up ticks while enjoying time outside. Ticks can come into your yard on the back of squirrel or other wild animals and easily attach to you.
The chances of your pet catching fleas increase in the spring and throughout the summer as your pet spends more time outside. There are number of different ways that fleas can hurt your pets. There are things that you can do to prevent fleas and protect your pets as the temperature warms up. Learn steps you can take to protect your pets.
Treat Your Yard
There are treatments that you can have done to your yard to stop fleas from living in your lawn and increasing the chances of your pets catching the fleas. The fleas may come into your yard on the backs of squirrels or other wildlife. These fleas will drop off that animal and wait for another host that they can attach to. A flea treatment will kill any fleas that try to enter your yard. This treatment is safe for your pets and your family and is often done in conjunction with a tick and mosquito treatment which can also protect your family.
You can also add protection in your yard by creating a gravel border around the perimeter of your yard that is at least 18 inches wide. Keeping the yard trim and neat and free of leaf debris can also help because it gives the fleas fewer places to land and to hide. These steps can protect other insects like ticks and mosquitoes.
Treat Your Pets
There are flea preventatives available on the market that you can use on your pets to stop them from getting fleas as they go to the park, dog parks or even to the kennel to board. These can vary from having your animal wear a flea collar to giving them an oral medication or applying drops to their backs. The costs of these treatments can vary, and it is important to remember to treat your pets regularly so that the protection will be continuous. Your vet can recommend the best solution for your pet and may only recommend these treatments during the summer. However, if you have your dog groomed regularly they may require that they have one of these treatments before you drop them off.
Keep Your Home Clean and Neat
Keeping your home clean and neat can make it easier to stop an infestation before it comes serious. Regularly washing your pets bedding and vacuuming may catch the one flea that made it past the other defenses before it can turn into multiple fleas. A regular cleaning regimen is important when you have pets because of all the mud they can track in, and you should keep it up even during the warmer months.
As the weather warms up, people begin to go outside more. With the heat, insects begin to thrive again. Most insects do better in warmer weather. As you prepare to spend outdoors this spring and summer, it is important to protect your family and home from insects that may start to invade your property.
Prepare for Tick Season
Ticks carry a number of serious illnesses like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The best strategy is to prevent yourself from getting bitten. You can prepare for tick season by purchasing a quality bug spray that contains DEET. You should be aware of the areas that are tick-prone. Ticks like meadows with long grass, and bushes or areas that are overgrown. Many people associate ticks with hiking or other outdoor activities, but you can get a tick at a local park or even in your back yard. It is important check for ticks regularly and to know how to remove them properly. You can also treat your yard to prevent ticks.
Plan for Mosquito Season
There are steps you can take to prepare for mosquito season. Mosquitoes will breed in standing water, and it is important to address any standing water on your property. You can plan your garden to include plants that naturally repel mosquitoes like lavender and marigolds. It is important to wear insect repellent when you go into areas where mosquitoes thrive. Finally, you can have a mosquito barrier treatment applied to your yard, which means that you can stop worrying about applying bug spray every time you go outdoors.
Protect Your Property from Termites
Termites swarm to form new colonies in the spring. While termites do not hurt people in any way, they can wreak havoc on your property. You may not realize that you have termites until they have established a colony and done real damage to your home. You can take steps to prevent termites like scheduling regular inspections and setting up a monitoring system. Keeping wood away from the sides of your home by storing firewood somewhere else and trimming back trees and bushes can help. Removing dead and rotting from your yard can also help.
Address Issues with Other Insects
Ants and other insects also become more active in the spring and summer. Keep an eye out for wasp nests and deal with them as soon as you notice them. Keeping your home clean and sealing up the cracks around your windows and in and around your foundation can also help keep insects out of your home.
Mosquitoes are pests that can spread diseases when they bite you. While most people are just annoyed by the itchy bites of mosquitoes, it is important to consider the dangers that they can cause as they transmit diseases like malaria, West Nile virus and the Zika virus. Whether you are trying to enjoy time at home or traveling there are steps you can take to stop yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes.
Apply Bug Spray
When you are traveling or spending time in a heavily infested mosquito area, you may be wondering what mosquito repellent is the best. There are a variety of brands of mosquito repellent, but the key is to look at the different chemicals that they use. DEET is one of the most effective repellents and you should use at least 10% and up to 30% for kids. However, there are stronger formulas available. Picaridin is another effective option that can keep mosquitoes away for up to eight hours.
Avoid Peak Mosquito Times and Areas
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. If you can avoid going out at this time of day, you may be able to avoid being bitten. If you can avoid areas where mosquitoes like to live and breed like marshy areas and swamps, you have a better chance of avoiding getting bitten. However, this is not always practical.
Dress in Light Colors
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors and dressing in lighter colors and white can help reduce the amount that you bitten. While this will not stop mosquitoes from biting you, it may reduce the chance of them finding you. It should be one of many steps that you take.
Treat Your Yard
Another option is to treat your yard for mosquitoes. A professional can apply a barrier spray that will knockdown any adult mosquitoes and prevent new ones from entering. Often the treatment will include treating any areas where mosquitoes may breed on your property.
Avoid Drinking Beer Outside
Mosquitoes are attracted to beer and people who have had a beer in the last hour. If you are out barbecuing, you may want to relax with a cold beer, but this is a signal for the mosquitoes to come and find you. You may want to wait to have your drink once the cooking is done and you are back inside.
Plan Your Garden
If you plan your garden so that you plant things like marigolds, lavender and geraniums around your patio seating or gazebos, you can work to naturally repel mosquitoes. This will help to reduce the number of mosquitoes that you see in the area, but it is not going to completely eliminate them. Other plants you can use include catnip, citronella and peppermint.
In the United States, there are about 90 species of ticks. However, not all of these ticks are known carriers of diseases in humans. If you can correctly identify the ticks that bit you, you can watch for the symptoms of the diseases they carry. When you remove the tick, but it in a cotton ball with alcohol on it and put it in a zipper bag. Take this into your doctor, because it can help with the diagnosis.
The Blacklegged Tick
According to the article “3 Ticks in Virginia and the Diseases They Cause” the female blacklegged tick has black legs with a reddish body and black head and legs. The adult male is brown with black legs. The blacklegged tick can transmit anaplasmosis, babesiosis borrelia miyamotoi, Powassan disease and Lyme disease. The blacklegged tick carries the most diseases of any tick in the United States. While Lyme disease may be the most widely known, the other diseases can be just as serious if not treated.
Lone Star Tick
You can recognize the lone star tick by the white spot in the center of its back. The lone star tick is a carrier of heartland virus, ehrlichiosis and tularemia. It can also carry STARI which is southern tick-associated rash illness. People may also develop an allergy to meat after a bite from a lone star tick.
American Dog Tick
The American dog tick is brown with a pattern on its back. The American dog tick carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is the most prevalent in the southeastern part of the United States. This disease is identified by the distinct spotted rash on your ankles and feet.
Pacific Coast Tick
The Pacific coast tick has a speckled back with a pattern on them. They are more likely to bite in April and May. They spread Pacific Coast fever also known as 364D rickettsiosis. This is a relatively new disease.
Many ticks will feed for several days. If you can find the tick within the first 24 hours, you often reduce the risk of contracting the disease. It is important to regularly check for ticks, especially if you have been in a heavily wooded area or another place that is prone to ticks. Dressing in long pants and sleeves and tucking in your shirt, and your pants to your socks can also reduce the chances of having a tick attach to you.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is just one of the tick-borne illnesses in the United States. Serious long-lasting complications, such as encephalitis, kidney failure, serious infections and even death, can occur if you do not treat it right away. Fortunately, there are antibiotics that are very effective at stopping these complications, but they are more effective the sooner that they are administered.
Identifying the Type of Tick
If you find a tick on you, it is important to remove it right away. If you are able to identify it, you may be able to determine if you are at greater risk of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The ticks that spread this are the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick and the brown dog tick. Once you have the tick, you can put it in a plastic bag or glass jar and use a magnifying class to check the pattern against pictures of different ticks.
Symptoms to Watch
After you have been bitten, it is important to keep an eye out for possible symptoms. These may show up within 5-10 days of being bitten.
The rash will begin as pink spots around the wrists and ankles. They are flat and may move up the forearms. After the first day, the rash will likely spread to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This rash is the most distinct sign that you have Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and you should immediately seek medical attention. Your doctor should be able to identify it and give you the correct medication for the disease.
Identifying Your Risk Factors of Contracting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
There are several risk factors that may increase your chances of contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever. One factor is where you live. Although you may assume that the majority of cases happen in or around the Rocky Mountains, you would be mistaken. According to the article “North Carolina and the Dangers of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever”, the majority of cases occur in the southeastern United States, with a high number each year in North Carolina.
Another risk factor is spending time where you may contract a tick. Ticks like high grasses, leaf litter and the woods or bushy areas. They will crawl up to the top of the grass or bush and wait for an animal to come by that they can attach to.
The time of year you are spending outside can increase your likelihood of contracting a tick. Ticks are active from the spring to the late fall. The nymphs are more likely to bite in the spring. The ticks will hibernate in the winter, and you are less likely to be bitten.
The final risk factor is how long the tick has been attached to you. If it is less than 24 hours, you are less likely to contract the disease. Simply checking for ticks when you come home from a high-risk area can help prevent you contracting it. Showering as soon as you get home can also prevent the tick from attaching.