Prevention is the Key!
Anyone spending time outdoors should first plan on enjoying their experience; and second they should take sensible precautions to avoid tick exposures. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of antibiotics!
Larval and nymphal deer ticks often hide in shady, moist ground litter, but adult ticks can often be found above the ground clinging to tall grass, brush, trees and shrubs. Ticks also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woodlands, on fallen trees and around old stone walls. No natural, vegetated area can be considered completely free of infected ticks.
Ticks have been known to drop from an overhanging branch or tree limbs making people think they can fly, but they have no wings. There are many potential hosts for ticks, which include all wild birds and mammals, domestic animals and humans. Once a tick comes in contact with a human it generally climbs upward until it reaches a suitable site, often the back of the knee, groin, navel, armpit, ears, head or neck. It then begins the process of inserting its mouthparts into the skin until it reaches the blood supply.
To help prevent exposure, avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation as much as possible. If you garden, hike, camp, farm, hunt, work outdoors or otherwise spend time in woods, brush or overgrown fields, you should use a combination of precautions faithfully to reduce your chances of getting Lyme and/or other tick borne diseases.
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Tips To Help Avoid
Exposure To Ticks
Any contact with vegetation, even playing in your yard, can result in exposure to ticks. Daily self-inspections are necessary whenever you are involved in outdoor activities. Remember ticks can be active when there is an 70% snow covering on the ground. Frequent tick checks during the day should be followed by a detailed tick check each night before going to bed.
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To remove a tick, follow these steps:
Health care professionals that treat many tick borne disease patients have recommendations on how to treat a bite. Several studies have recently discredited the old theory that it is effective to treat with simply one dose of doxycycline to prevent Lyme disease and that one dose may negatively alter future test results.
Home & Yard Treatment Tips
Those who enjoy spending time in their yards can reduce the tick population around the home by:
Hikers, canoeists, boaters, fishermen, and nature lovers...
You may want to keep a garbage bag (twist tied and labeled)
With pre-treated clothing ready to wear when going outdoors.
Prevention is the Key for Tick Borne Disease
The prevention tips below may help lower your risks from exposure to ticks and help prevent you and your family from becoming ill from tick borne diseases.
1. Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be spotted easier and sooner. Consider tucking your pant legs into your socks, but be aware this may give ticks a direct and undetected bee-line straight to your head if your clothes aren’t treated with a Permethrin or Permanone Clothing Treatment. Tie up long hair and/or wear a hat that has been treated with a tick repellent or clothing treatment.
2. Do tick checks often while outdoors and as soon as you return home. Do a thorough tick check after your shower and again a few hours later. Check your children daily and teach them to make a ‘tick check’ a regular habit, like brushing their teeth. Be sure to also check your pets daily for ticks!
3. Try using a rough surfaced scrubby or wash cloth in the shower to dislodge any ticks that might not have attached themselves completely.
4. Shampoo that is designed to kill lice on humans may be used on occasion to kill ticks after a heavy exposure (example- after walking through nests of hundreds of larval ticks). Read all label directions before using any lice shampoo products.
5. For most people the occasional use of insect repellents isn't always enough to prevent tick exposure. Clothing treatments, made with Permanone or Permethrin, kills ticks and can be used by those who frequent the great outdoors. The small spray bottle of clothing treatment can be purchased for approximately $10.00 at your local sporting goods store or can be ordered online.
Sawyer's Permethrin, in a larger pump spray bottle, can also be purchased in some stores and online. Once treated, clothing may be washed and worn again for up to two weeks. Again, be sure to read all instructions before using!
Permethrin based products are highly recommended for treating shoes, boots, backpacks, and all outdoor wear. Once they have dried there is no detectable scent. These products are especially favored by hunters and those sensitive to perfume/chemical smells. Ticks, chiggers, and other insects trying to crawl across properly treated clothing will die, not simply be turned away or “repelled” when using Permanone or Permethrin. Be advised, these products can only be applied to clothing, NOT to your skin.
Permanone/Permethrin can also be sprayed on outdoors on screens, some furniture, and around buildings foundations for additional protection. Be sure to follow all safety precautions on the label and keep the products out of the reach of children. You may keep clothing that has been treated with Permanone in plastic bags with a dated tag for easier last minute access and maximum protection. For a selection of prevention products- click here.
6. Don't use fragrances that attract bugs, such as perfumed soaps, lotions, and creams. Natural insect repellents like citronella, lemon eucalyptus, garlic, rose, and geranium oil can be applied to exposed skin (barring sensitivities) for added protection. Some oils work better than others.
7. Keep a bristle brush outside to brush off your clothing when returning home. You can place your clothing directly in a clothes dryer and run it for one hour on high heat to help kill ticks.
8. Anything you can do to make your property less hospitable to deer, mice, and birds and other wildlife will have a impact on the tick population. If you have a large yard or wooded area, consider creating a “safe zone” for you and your family. You may not be able to prevent all ticks from entering the safe area, however, you can certainly reduce the numbers. Deer fencing can be used to help build the “safe zones” in your yard if desired. (See photo and instructions below.)
9. Keep all grass cut SHORT so any ticks that try to hide in your lawn will be exposed to more sunshine and hotter, drier conditions that they do not like. Ticks tend to crawl up tall blades of grass so they are better able to latch on the innocent passerby.
10. You may try discouraging deer and other wildlife from feeding in your yard by spraying their 'edibles' with a garlic or hot pepper spray.
11. Keep playground equipment and play areas in sunny locations in your yard. Do not use wood chips in play areas because it provides ideal, moist, shaded living quarters for ticks.
12. You may want to keep bird feeders away from the house to discourage mice (a favorite host of ticks) from gathering or nesting near or in your home. Birds carry ticks from one location to another. Set traps to remove mice from the home.
13. To treat your yard or other outdoor areas, a product called SEVIN (sold as a concentrated liquid or dust for use on garden vegetables) can be applied. Sevin seems to have the least offensive chemical odor and is recommended for killing ticks. The label states it can be applied to your dogs bedding area to help kill ticks that may gather there (let dry throughly before allowing pet to return to area). Carefully follow the directions on the label. Sevin is usually less expensive and less toxic to humans and animals than some of the other products on the market. Information on prevention products- click here.
14. Acorns and berries attract white-footed mice and other wildlife. Removing them from your safe zone might lessen the chance of additional tick exposure.
15. Depending on your property layout, you can create a barrier around the edges of the open grass where the wooded areas meet your safe zone. Place a layer of wood chips 3 feet wide and 1-3 feet deep between your grass yard and the woods edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture the chips provide. Treat the chips regularly with Sevin, Permanone or Permethrin to kill the ticks living in or trying to cross the barrier. Be sure to keep pets and children out of the treated wood chip area. (See section below.)
16. To reduce the tick populations you can purchase commercial Damminex Tick Tubes or save the cardboard inserts from toilet paper and paper towel rolls. You can also use pieces of PVC pipe rather than cardboard tubes for this project and reuse them later. Treat cotton balls (or dryer lint) with Permanone/Permethrin (wear gloves when handling permanent treated material) and place them loosely inside the tube holders. Place the tubes along the border of your property, in sheds, barns and brushy areas. The theory is that mice will carry the treated cotton balls or lint to their nest as bedding material exposing ticks to the treated materials and killing the ticks before they find you. Youtube video (4 minutes) on how to make them is HERE.
17. Consider making your pets either inside pets only, or outside pets only. Studies show pet owners are more at risk for tick bites and contracting infectious tick borne diseases. Remember, even if you don’t roam in unprotected areas your pets do. They can carry ticks back into your house, exposing everyone inside. *Never expose pets (or your spouse and children) to harsh outdoor weather conditions in an effort to prevent ticks from coming in the house.
Ticks can live for over 6 months without a blood meal. An adult female can produce 2-5 thousand off-spring. Some homes have been treated for tick infestation after female ticks laid eggs indoors, the eggs hatched and the tiny ticks took up residence. Be sure to remove ticks from your clothing and gear before getting into your vehicle. This will prevent ticks from calling your car their home.
18. A special note to hunters- Check yourselves, your clothing, and your dogs before going home after a days hunt. If you are lucky enough to bag a deer or other wildlife, wrap the animal in a sheet that has been pre-treated with Permanone/Permethrin as soon as possible, or once home properly hang the deer over an old sheet that has been liberally treated with Permanone. As the deer cools, ticks will drop off. As ticks land on the treated material and try to escape, they will die instead of taking up residence in your yard. This will help to prevent exposure for your family, your pets, and other families in the neighborhood.
Deer meat or meat from other wild animals should be cooked thoroughly before eating. When butchering or handling raw meat it is recommended that disposable gloves be worn.
19. Pets should be checked daily for ticks. Consider treating your pets with one of several products designed to kill fleas and ticks. Contact your veterinarian for more specific advise on the proper flea and tick control for your pet. Remember no tick control product is 100% effective, and a daily tick check is still required.
20. Consider removing shrubbery and flowers from the base of your house or treat those areas with Sevin to prevent ticks from being in close contact with your home. Removing shrubs will also discourage animals from nesting or bedding there.
21. If you suspect you may have a tick borne illness, are bitten by a tick, or have the classic bulls eye rash (which is present in only a small number of those infected), immediately seek advise from a doctor that is experienced in treating patients with Lyme and other tick borne diseases. If you or your children get flu like symptoms, joint pain, fatigue, depression, or any illness that does not resolve, or returns after treatment for tick borne diseases has ended, consider a relapse or other tick borne infection as the possible cause.
22. If you suspect you have Lyme disease or any other tick borne diseases consider the possibility this might negatively affect your friends and family members. Spirochetes that cause Lyme disease have been found in breast milk, the uterus, semen, urine, blood, the cervix, tears, brain tissue, and other body fluids and tissues. Studies by a team of international researchers indicates, once again, that Lyme may be sexually transmitted. We recommend using the same precautions you normally would to prevent transmitting any other sexually transmitted disease.
23. If you are bitten by a tick, prompt and proper removal is essential to prevent the ticks fluids from being forced into your body. To remove a tick, place tweezers or a tick remover tool as close to the skin as possible and steadily pull the tick out from the same direction it entered. Clean the site and your hands with rubbing alcohol and cover it with antibiotic ointment to help prevent secondary infections.
CREATING A "SAFE ZONE"
Anything you can do to make your property less hospitable to deer, mice and birds will have a impact on the tick population. If you have a large yard, wooded area or high-use area, consider creating a “safe zone” to help reduce your exposure to ticks. You cannot keep all ticks out of the “safe zone”, but you can reduce the number of ticks and chance of exposure substantially by creating a "safe zone".
To create a "safe zone" Place a layer of wood chips at least 3 feet wide and 1-3 feet deep between your yard and the woods edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture provided. Treat the chips regularly (several times a year) with Sevin or Permanone to kill any ticks living in, around or that maybe trying to cross the “safe zone” barrier. Keep children and pets out of the treated wood chips.
Keep all grass in your “safe zone” cut SHORT to discourage ticks from taking up residence there. Ticks do not like hot dry areas. Be sure not to provide an inviting habitat for ticks by using wood chips under picnic tables or playground equipment where people often gather.
To discourage deer and other wildlife from living in or wandering through your “safe zone” spray their favorite 'edibles' with a garlic, soap or hot pepper spray. Acorns and berries attract mice and other wildlife. Removing wildlife food sources may indirectly help reduce the number of ticks.
Consider keeping bird feeders away from the house and your “safe zone” to discourage mice (a favorite host of ticks) from gathering or nesting in or near your home. Set traps to remove mice from inside your house and empty the traps promptly.
To reduce ticks, you can purchase a garden product called Sevin (sold as a concentrated liquid or dust) and apply it to and around your high use areas. Sevin, sold as a garden product for use on fruits and vegetables, has one of the least offensive chemical odors, is fairly inexpensive considering the coverage and is effective for killing ticks. It can also be applied to your pets outdoor bedding areas to kill ticks and fleas. Carefully read and follow all directions on the label.
Save the cardboard inserts from toilet paper and paper towels or cut several short pieces of PVC pipe. Treat a handful of cotton balls with Permanone/Permethrin (spray them outside on newspaper or on a protective covering), allow to dry and place the cotton balls loosely inside the tubes. Place the tubes along the border of your property. Hopefully, mice will carry the cotton balls to their nest, exposing ticks to the treatment.
Inside Home- Ticks can live for over six months without a blood meal. An adult female can produce 2,000–5,000 off-spring. Homes may have to be treated for tick infestation if a female tick deposits her eggs indoors and they hatch. You should also be sure to check for ticks before getting into your vehicle in order to prevent potential problems.
The Appalachian Trail- Maine to Georgia
Big trip or little trip- water ways or woods,
Always be prepared for bad weather and ticks!
You can run out of toilet paper, shot gun shells or coffee, but don't run out of tick repellent! Treat an old sheet or blanket with Permanone before the big hunt so you can wrap your fresh game in it. This will help you avoid taking live ticks home with you (as if you weren't in enough trouble already)!