Want to keep your family safe from getting bitten by ticks? It’s important that you’re taking steps to protect them all year round. There are differences between when ticks are most active, so read on for all the info you’ll need about when ticks are the most prevalent and what you should do to prevent yourself from getting bitten.
Young deer ticks, or nymphs, are generally the size of poppy seeds. Although they’re little, they can still be carriers for serious illnesses like Lyme disease. These ticks are typically the most active during mid-May to mid-August. This time of year can be especially concerning, because warmer months are usually when people are spending more time outdoors in nature where ticks are present.
Adult ticks, usually the size of sesame seeds, are active anywhere from March to mid-May and then again from mid-August to November. There are times during the year when ticks can become dormant, usually when the temperature is below 35 degrees. When the ground is completely covered with snow and soil temperatures drop below 44 degrees, it isn’t likely you’ll come across many ticks. Regions that experience more mild winters (as opposed to a more frozen climate) are more likely to have tick problems.
Ticks are attracted to shady, moist areas at ground level. They can climb up tall grass blades, shrubs, or brush. Perfect habitats for them also include lawns and gardens (especially with grass clippings or lawn debris). Ticks are also often found in the woods, around stone walls, and in rock or wood piles – any shady hiding spot is enticing to them. One recent study determined that deer ticks even use leaves to insulate themselves during colder months, making them a threat even when temperatures are on the cooler side.
Although the weather can influence whether there are more ticks out and about, it’s a good idea that you remain vigilant against them the entire year. Here are some tips on protecting yourself and your family from getting bitten.
Protect your home
There are many steps you can take to make sure your yard is unfriendly to ticks. Keep your grass cut short, dispose of any grass clippings or piles of leaves, and create mulch barriers if your home is near any wooded areas. Getting rid of all brush and keeping your yard from being overgrown will help reduce the chance of ticks on your property.
Be careful when out in nature
Because ticks hang out in brush and wooded areas, you should stay on marked pathways when out for walks or hikes in nature. Veering off the path into wooded areas makes you more at risk for getting bitten. Also, steer clear of large leaf or grass piles or brush areas where ticks could be hiding.
Wear protective clothing
Your number one best defense against getting bitten by a tick is to protect your skin. If you’re going to be out in nature, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. You might even want to consider tucking your socks into your pants so there’s no way ticks can crawl onto your legs. It’s also a good idea to wear light-colored clothing so you can spot if any ticks have attached themselves to your clothing. If you want to be extra cautious, wear a hat to protect your scalp.
Some people opt for using a tick pesticide called permethrin that can be applied directly to clothing. This can be a convenient option since you only have to reapply it every couple of months. There are also insect repellents that you can apply to your skin if you know you’re going to be outdoors. Just make sure to read the instructions and reapply as directed so that you stay protected for the duration of the time you’ll be outside.
Do checks when you’re back indoors
It’s essential that you check for any ticks that might have landed on you as soon as you return indoors. Visually inspect your body for any small dark specks. It’s a good idea to also feel around on your skin for any places where ticks may have attached themselves – they can be so small that you always run the risk of not being able to visually spot them. Don’t forget to check hard-to-see areas like behind your knees and your scalp. These checks should be done on anyone in your household who was outside – including children and pets!
Remove any ticks as quickly as possible
If you do see a tick on your body, remove it as soon as you can. You can do this with tweezers or with a tick removal kit that can be bought in stores. Grab the tick between the head and the skin and firmly pull away. If you’re concerned about contracting Lyme disease, consider sending the tick to a lab to see if it was a carrier for Lyme.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, it’s important to look out for any physical symptoms that might indicate you’ve been infected with Lyme disease. These symptoms could range from a bullseye rash and fever to joint pain and fatigue. It’s recommended to check in with your doctor if you’ve been bitten by a tick so that they can take appropriate steps if you need treatment.
Even though adult ticks are most likely to be prevalent during the middle of the year, it’s a good idea to follow these steps the entire year round to ensure you and your family are protected from getting bitten.