The truth is quite simple. Ticks and tick-borne diseases are a significant health problem for New Yorkers. The three most common types found in New York State are the deer (black-legged) tick, the American dog tick, and the lone star 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. Let’s learn about them so that you, your family, and your pets can enjoy the warmer weather.
Four common myths about ticks
Myth: Ticks are only active in the summer. Ticks can survive any time the temperature is over 45 degrees F. Young deer ticks, about the size of a poppy seed, are active from May through mid-August. Adult ticks are present through November and are about the size of a sesame seed.
Myth: Ticks can jump. Ticks do not jump. They stretch out their first set of legs waiting for a host to hitch on to, and they climb on for the ride. They need about 36-48 hours to attach before the Lyme bacteria is transmitted.
Myth: How to remove a tick. Fine-tipped tweezers are the only efficient and safe way to remove a tick. Use the tweezers to grab the head close to the skin and lift straight upwards with steady, even pressure. Parts of the tick’s head or mouth may remain, but they cannot transmit any disease without the body.
Myth: All Ticks carry Lyme disease. According to safety.com: There are about 900 species of ticks found around in the world. Ninety of those species are found within the Continual United States. About eight of these species are known to feed on a host animal that can transmit an infectious blood-borne related infectious bacteria to humans. These blood-borne infectious bacteria can be either Lyme disease, fever, or just a rash, so know the type of ticks in your geographical location within the United States and be familiar with the symptoms and treatment. But if you live outside of northeastern and north-central US, you have only a 3% chance of contracting Lyme disease.
How can I protect against ticks and prevent Lyme Disease?
According to the New York State Department of Health: Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush, and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.
Deer ticks cannot jump or fly and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.
In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter, and vegetation. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself:
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
- Consider using insect repellent.
- Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
- Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.
How can you minimize ticks in your backyard?
Ticks love vegetation and can travel from vegetation so long as there are no barriers. Here are some ideas to minimize ticks in your backyard.
- Create mulch beds separating the bushes and shrubs from your lawn.
- Replace lawn and grass close to the house with pavers or patio.
- Keep bird feeders away from your home. Birdseed attracts mice and other tick carriers.
- Move children’s swings, trampoline, and playhouses away from the edge of the yard near vegetation.
- Minimum 3-foot mulch/stone barrier between tick habitat and lawn to remind people not to enter tick habitat.
- Rodent-proof compost pile.
- Always keep cut firewood away from the house.
- Fence in your garden to keep mice, rabbits, and other wildlife out and stop them from carrying ticks to other parts of your yard.
The Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website, dontgettickedny.org, provides complete information about ticks and tick safety for New Yorkers.
Contact a professional pest control provider for tick treatments
Creating a safe backyard environment for your family and pets requires more than lawn treatments or simple sprays. Accurate Pest Control provides a managed solution encompassing barrier fogging treatments and granular applications. We offer service contracts for monthly applications, or we can add ticks to your annual service agreement.
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.
Resources: https://theconversation.com, esafety.com, https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2813/