It’s the time of year when the days are getting longer and we are filled with a restlessness, a desire to be outside and to commune with nature. But before you dive headfirst into a bed of daffodils, remember – it’s tick season! And, as we know, ticks carry Lyme disease.
Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.”
This disease is spread by the bite of the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis) which attaches to any part of the body, favoring the groin, armpit and scalp. Typically, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the bacterium can be transmitted.
The black-legged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States; the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) conquers the Pacific regions. The Lone star tick (eastern U.S. .and the South), the American dog tick (east of the Rocky Mountains, limited parts of the Pacific), the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Rocky Mountain states), and the brown dog tick (world-wide) are not known to carry the disease.
It is best to remove a tick as soon as possible. First grab a fine-tipped tweezer to remove the tick and get close to the surface of your skin. Be steady while removing in an upward direction, with even pressure. If the tick gets twisted the mouth may break off and continue to remain in the skin. Clean the designated area and your hands using rubbing alcohol or water and soap. To get rid of the tick, flush it down the toilet or place in alcohol before tightly sealing in a bag before throwing away.
Lyme disease is treatable, especially if caught in the beginning stages. However, there are ways to ensure that you don’t catch it in the first place! Whether it’s applying bug spray, or donning a broad brimmed hat, you should always take precautions before stepping outdoors.
Mosquito Squad’s 6Cs of Tick Control offer some great tips for avoiding unnecessary contact with these pests.
Clear Out: Reduce your tick exposure by clearing out areas where lawn and tree debris gathers. Ticks thrive in moist, shady areas and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Don't position playground equipment, decks, or patios near treed areas.
Clean: Eliminate leaf litter by cleaning it around the house and lawn edges. We also recommend mowing tall grass to keep your lawn short.
Choose Plants: Since deer can bring ticks to your yard, select plants and shrubs that don’t attract deer. You can also install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.
Check Hiding Places: Know tick hiding places and check them frequently. Fences, brick walls, and patio retaining walls are popular hiding places.
Care for Family Pets: Family pets can suffer from tick-borne disease and can also carry infected ticks into your home. Talk to your veterinarian about using tick collars and sprays.
Call the Pros: Professional tick control can offer two levels of service to eliminate ticks before they get to you. Our traditional mosquito control spray kills adult ticks on contact, while tick tubes are placed around your property to entice mice.
For more ways to guard against ticks, visit the CDC website.
Mosquito Squad is invested in you and your family’s safety. We know ticks (and mosquitos!) are unwanted guests and while we are prepared to treat your lawn and outdoor property, we are not doctors. If you think you may have contracted Lyme disease, please contact a medical professional.