The upcoming long holiday weekend has us all ready to start summer activities. Schools are out and activities like camping, hiking, swimming, camping, bonfires are calling our names. Along with the fun summer comes some unwanted insects. We will endure flies getting in the house, a couple mosquito bites each night, and hopefully, no ticks.
Tick Season is among us, and it is important to know where they are likely to be found and what to do if you find one on you, your child or your pets.
There are three types of ticks in Indiana
1. The Blacklegged Tick (also known as “Deer Tick”) which can be a carrier for Lyme disease and Powassan virus.
2. The Lone Start Tick a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI)
3. American Dog Tick a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick paralysis
Unfortunately, all of them like to use humans as hosts from the spring till the fall. Ticks don’t just like humans, other hosts for ticks include: ground-dwelling birds, small mammals, wild animals, livestock, and pets.
Ticks have limited physical skills, no wings, no strong back legs to leap. Ticks crawl. They like to hang out in vegetation near high traffic areas. They will “quest” on leaves, blades of grass and wait until it can grip a passing host. They detect breath, body odor, body heat, body moisture and vibrations. Once transferred to a host they will crawl till it finds a place on the body to feed. They like to find skin that is thinner or where pressure from clothing is tighter so it makes it easier to penetrate the skin.
How to prevent ticks in your landscape:
Keeping a well kept lawn is very important in the preventions of ticks. Removing heavy vegetation and leaf litter, mowing regularly and choosing landscape plants that do not attract ticks and deer will be great tick deterrent for your lawns.
When going outdoors:
Avoid heavy and thick vegetations. It is much better to stick to the well-established trails, long pants and long sleeved shirts so ticks can be more easily seen. It is also good to apply insect repellent to your socks, shoes and pants. Check for ticks and shower after a hike or walking through tall grasses. The best places to check are your head, groin, and underarms.
If you find a tick and it is not attached remove promptly and dispose of properly.
If attached you will need these supplies: pointed tweezers, alcohol swabs, and a Ziploc bag. If the tick is attached, use the pointed tweezers and grab the tick’s head and get as close to the skin as possible then firmly and slowly pull the head straight out from the skin, trying to not crush the tick. Swab the bite with the alcohol wipe and keep the tick in the Ziploc bag in case an infection or rash occurs after removal to test the tick. Most ticks need to be attached for 24 hours in order to transmit diseases.
More Resources on Ticks and other bug-borne diseases: Indianalymeconnect.org , Purdue Extension Publication E-71-W, CDC, and Montgomery County Health Department
Tricia Herr is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for the Montgomery County Purdue Extension Office. She can be reached at [email protected].edu .