Ticks are proving to be a prolific pest this year in St. Louis because of our mild winter and lack of frost this spring. Over the last month, I have had at least 30 people call with concerns about ticks compared with three people in the last two years! Ticks might be little, but they pack a mighty punch. There is a reason for concern: Ticks carry serious diseases for humans AND pets like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, STARI, and Ehrlichiosis. The CDC’s website offers extensive information on these tick-borne illnesses.
The three most prevalent ticks in Missouri are deer ticks, lone star ticks, and American dog ticks. They live in moist, humid environments especially near wooded and grassy areas, so after being in these areas be sure to check yourself, children and pets for ticks.
Ticks are often found in these areas of the body:
- Under the Arms
- Around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Around the hairline and scalp
- Between the legs
The quicker a tick can be removed, the less of a chance for infection. Most infection occurs when ticks are attached for at least 24 hours.
To remove an attached tick, wearing latex gloves use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out. Be sure not to twist the body. Be careful not to break the tick. Treat the bite area with rubbing alcohol. Use rubbing alcohol to kill the tick by soaking it in a container. If you encounter a nest of seed ticks (tick larvae) quickly remove clothing and bathe in warm soapy water. It’s possible to encounter thousands of these little creatures at one time!
Remember the 5 Ps for Tick Protection:
- Prune: Prune all tree branches and shrubs away from the edge of the lawn and place a path of wood chips, mulch or gravel between woods and lawn. Remove as much honeysuckle as possible from your property. Honeysuckle is an invasive, noxious plant that provides nesting areas for animals that carry ticks like deer and rodents.
- Pitch: Pitch any leaf litter or yard debris before ticks can settle in and make a home.
- Prevent: Prevent deer (which carry ticks) from gathering in your yard by eliminating deer food sources like groundcovers.
- Provide: Provide children with vegetation free play areas. Place play equipment on a bed of mulch or wood chips.
- Project: Protect your family and pets with a professional barrier spray program that eliminates adult ticks. Apply DEET bug repellent if you are going in the woods or other areas where ticks are present. Apply Frontline Plus or Advantix to dogs to keep ticks from attaching to them. Mosquito Squad can also protect your yard with tick tubes. Visit MosquitoSquad.com to read more about them.