With the warmer months upon us, the tick population is out in full force. Although ticks are around throughout the year, they tend to be more active in the warmer weather. Ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Ticks are commonly thought of as insects but are actually arachnids, like scorpions, spiders, and mites. Many believe that ticks fly or jump onto their victims from a tree branch. The reality is that ticks cannot fly or jump, they crawl. They wait patiently for someone to brush by tall grass or a shrub and then transfer onto their host. When you find a tick higher up on your body it generally means they climbed all the way up. There are many types of ticks out there, but the deer tick is of concern since Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick.There are several ways to protect yourself from tick bites without the use of harmful insecticides. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaf litter or near shrubs.” A simple way to avoid ticks is to walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other grassy areas. Sticking to sunny spots will dramatically reduce the risk of tick bites. Tick nymphs can’t survive in the sunshine since they need environments with at least 80 percent humidity to survive. They tend to hang out in leaf piles and other shady, humid environments. If the weather isn’t too warm, take the time to cover up. Wear clothing that covers up most of your skin to prevent ticks from latching on. Check your clothing for ticks after spending time outside. Ticks can easily end up on your clothing, especially shoes and socks. Once they make their way onto the lower portion of your body they then start making their way up your body to a warmer spot. Taking a shower after being outside is a great way to prevent tick bites. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease. This is also a perfect time to do a full-body tick check. Performing a full tick check after being near tick-infested areas is critical when trying to prevent tick bites. Check the entire body fully, including hair, ears, belly button, underarms, and behind the knees. Ticks like finding these warm spots for their next meal. Also, take the time to check your shoes and other equipment for ticks along for the ride. If they’re brought inside, ticks can later attach to people or pets. Throw your clothing in the dryer with high heat to kill any ticks that manage to make their way indoors. If you do find a tick, don’t panic! Here’s info on tick removal.
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