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How to Be Tick Smart

Every summer we deal with these nasty little nuisances, and every summer we seem to find they bring a little more trouble than the last. But for some reason, summer 2017 has brought more tick fears and anxieties than summers before. Due to their tiny size, ticks can seem unavoidable, but the best thing that you can do to try to keep the end of summer tick-free is to educate yourself on prevention and treatment.


1. Know your Species

Ticks come in a all sizes and species. Educating yourself on the different types of ticks that are out there and which ticks carry certain types of diseases can give you a better idea of what types of ticks to look for in the woods and after you’ve exited. For example, all ticks have the potential to carry disease, but the blacklegged tick, the deer tick and the western blacklegged tick all carry Lyme disease. Knowing the difference can help you prepare and react appropriately.


2. Ticks and Where They Stay

Once you figure out what ticks are looking for, you need to learn about where they stay and how they attach to hosts. That being said, ticks can be found in a number of places. They tend to be found in outdoor areas of high grass, forested areas and woodpiles. Certain types of ticks can even thrive indoors for the entirety of their life cycles. A common misconception about ticks is that they fall from trees, fly, or “jump” from bushes onto their hosts.  Actually, ticks don’t have wings, nor jump from bushes, but they tend to rest in a position known as questing. When questing, ticks grip leaves and trees with their lower legs, and raise a pair of upper legs in an outward position in order to attach themselves onto hosts as they brush against them.

3. Prevention

When considering tick prevention and your camping, hiking or gardening gear, treat your clothing and gear with products containing permethrin to repel ticks. As for your skin, use EPA registered products containing DEET, picaradin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or 2-undecanon. Many products can be found in your local convenience store and are successful in repelling ticks. There are also natural insect repellents that are made without the inclusion of DEET and are free of other chemicals.

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4. Checking for Ticks

After spending time outdoors, especially in areas that you could be exposed to ticks you should always check your clothes and body for ticks. Remove any ticks that you have found, and if you are still unsure you can place the clothes or gear in the dryer for 10 minutes. The heat should kill any ticks that you may have carried indoors. Once you have removed and addressed your clothing, you should then check your body and your pets for ticks. It’s also an idea to take a shower within two hours of being outdoors: the combination of heat and water can help remove any ticks that haven’t attached themselves and reduce your chances of contracting Lyme disease should you have been bitten.


5. Tick Removal

Should you find a tick, remove it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Grab a pair of fine tipped tweezers and grasp the back of the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull with steady and even pressure. Grasping the tick too tightly or attempting to twist the tick out could cause the mouth of the tick to break off and remain in the skin. If this does happen, attempt to remove the mouth as well, but if it’s not possible let the skin heal on its own. Once removed, clean the area and your hands thoroughly with alcohol, soap and water.


Ticks are all over, but the aim of the game is to know how to take care of them if they do use you for a snack! What are your tick prevention tips?

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