Ticks have been in the news lately, including CDC bulletins, outdoor enthusiast magazines, and medical journals. Ticks and tick illnesses are on the rise here in New York State. We must be diligent and somewhat aggressive in our habits when enjoying our backyards, trails, and State Parks.
What are ticks?
Amazingly, something so small can be so harmful. Ticks are part of the arachnid family and are related to mites and spiders. Unfed ticks are flattened and teardrop-shaped.
Tick size depends on the species, life stage, if the tick has fed and how long it has fed. Larval ticks hatch from an egg, develop into a nymph, then into an adult. For the black-legged and lone star ticks, larvae are about the size of a grain of sand, nymphs about the size of a poppy seed, and adults about the size of a sesame seed. When fully fed, an adult female black-legged and lone star tick can be as large as a raisin. American dog ticks are larger than black-legged and lone star ticks.
Which ticks are found in New York State?
The three most common ticks in New York State are:
- Deer (black-legged) tick. Only deer ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. They can also carry the germs that cause babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
- American dog tick. American dog ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dog ticks are reddish-brown and larger than deer ticks.
- Lone star tick. Lone star ticks are becoming more common in New York State. They can carry the germ that causes human monocytic ehrlichiosis and are another rash illness that has been seen in over 20 other states. Adult female lone star ticks have a white dot on their back and are similar in size to deer ticks.
The Longhorned Tick (aka Asia Tick). Also known as the Asian tick because it is native to Central and East Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan, as well as Pacific islands including Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, has now made its home in the United States. This is the first known invasive tick to become established in the United States in fifty years. First discovered in New Jersey in November of 2017, it has now been found in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas. Attempts to eradicate the tick have failed and it is officially an established invasive species. (Pestworld.org)
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. Untreated, the disease can cause a number of health problems. Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely.
How do I know if I have Lyme Disease?
The early symptoms of Lyme disease may be mild and easily missed. If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove the tick with tweezers (see tick removal instructions on page 6), and watch for Lyme disease symptoms. In 60-80% of cases, the first symptom is a rash, known as erythema migrans, that:
- Occurs at or near the site of the tick bite.
- Is a “bulls-eye” circular patch or solid red patch that grows larger.
- Appears between three days and one month after the tick bite.
- Has a diameter of two to six inches.
- Lasts for about three to five weeks.
- May or may not be warm to the touch.
- Is usually not painful or itchy.
- Sometimes leads to multiple rashes.
Ticks will attach themselves anywhere including the thighs, groin, trunk, armpits, and behind the ears. If you are infected, the rash may be found in one of these areas.
Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms, such as joint pain, chills, fever, and fatigue can occur, but they may seem too mild to require medical attention. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff neck, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur.
The most severe symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems. If you are unsure if you have Lyme Disease, please contact your health care provider immediately.
What Can I Do to Reduce Ticks In My Yard?
You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”. We agree! Here are some simple tips from the NYS Department of Health:
- Keep lawns mowed and edges trimmed.
- Clear brush, leaf litter, tall grass around the house and at the edges of gardens and stone walls.
- Stack woodpiles neatly away from the house and preferably off the ground.
- In the fall, clear all leaf and garden litter out of your yard where ticks can live in the winter.
- Keep the ground under bird feeders clean so as not to attract small animals that can carry ticks into your yard.
- Locate children’s swing sets and other play equipment in sunny, dry areas of the yard, away from the woods where ticks can be abundant.
Using an approved insecticide once a year, in June, can significantly reduce tick numbers on a residential property. The Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website, dontgettickedny.org, provides complete information about ticks and tick safety for New Yorkers.
Keep your pets and family safe this summer.
Families across the Capital Region, North Country, and lake properties trust Accurate Pest Control to keep their homes, summer homes, and backyards safe for their families, guests, and pets. Ask us about tick control treatments for your outdoor living space. We are available at 518-374-0357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you having a party or hosting a family gathering? Contact us for a one-time treatment before the event. From our family to yours, have a safe and healthy summer.