Ticks have become one of the most worrisome outdoor pests in recent years. According to the EPA, Lyme’s disease, spread by ticks, is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the US, affecting 20,000 to 30,000 people yearly. This poorly studied and little known disease can have debilitating effects on those it impacts, causing life-long pain and suffering such as damaged joints, trouble walking or sitting, back pain and brain fog. While research is still being done on Lyme’s disease and how to diagnose or treat it, there is quite a bit of research on tick habitat, tick prevention and tick management. These issues are the scope and topic of this blog post.
Tick habitat is relatively simple. In fact, if you can imagine where a spider would hide, that’s generally where you will find ticks, as ticks are members of the arachnid family. Growing from a nymph stage into “seed ticks”, the life cycle of any tick requires a blood meal. From humans to wildlife and pet hosts, any blood will do. Unfortunately, in humans the major disease of Lymes can be caused by ticks that remain attached to human skin longer than 36-48 hours. Nymphs cause many Lymes cases due to the difficulty of locating them on the body. Tick habitat can generally be described as shady, cool, damp, moist areas that are undisturbed such as tall grass, brush, tree limbs, piles of leaves and debris and certainly pet hosts.
Tick prevention involves using common sense tools and techniques during the spring, summer and fall months. While ticks are generally dormant in winter, they can hatch and begin crawling during winter warm spells. Wearing a hat, long pants and long sleeve shirt tucked in with pants taped to your boots. Light colored clothing helps ticks show up faster than dark clothing. Using DEET based repellent is also an excellent way to ward off ticks. Cutting back brush around the home, removing piles of leaves and sticks, cutting down tall grass, keeping vegetation managed and medicating pets with flea and tick prevention are all excellent ways to keep ticks at bay. If you mow your lawn weekly at normal heights, you almost certainly do not have to fear ticks crawling in your lawn. They cannot survive long in short grass that is routinely groomed.
If ticks have become a problem on your property and you have already pruned, cleaned up shrubs and brush piles and medicated your pets, consider hiring a professional to fog your property and / or install tick tubes. Both of these methods place insecticide where the ticks live and attack them on a continuous basis. Breaking the life cycle of tick reproduction is a key method to insure long term control.
Ticks can be a dangerous pest. Causing Lyme’s disease that infects thousands of people yearly, they are not a pest to be taken lightly. Through the proper management of vegetation, brush, shrubbery, wood piles and pets, control of ticks is possible. Fogging and tick tubes are professional solutions to attack ticks where they live. When walking through areas known to harbor ticks, wearing long sleeve pants and shirts along with a hat and DEET repellant are common sense ways to keep yourself safe outdoors. Call Browder-Hite at 757-442-5296 to discuss how to keep yourself and those you love safe this season from ticks and their dangerous bites.