The beginning of spring marks the onset of tick season. April through October is the season when most ticks feed, with the exception of blacklegged ticks which can feed year-round. Anyone who spends time outdoors should understand that these tiny pests are not only a nuisance, but can pose a significant health risk when they bite. To protect yourself, your family and pets from tick-borne illness, there are a few things you should know.
The most common ticks in the United States include:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists sixteen different tick-borne diseases that occur in the United States.2 Tick-borne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. Early recognition and treatment decreases the risk of serious complications.3 Following is a list of seven fairly common tick-borne illnesses, their incubation periods and symptoms.
The most important step in preventing tick-borne disease is to prevent tick bites. Always use bug repellent when heading into tick country. DEET, the same active ingredient in bug repellents that protect against mosquitoes, is also the best to use against ticks. Use it according to label directions. For pets, each species has its own unique needs, so you should consult your vet for the best advice.
After spending time outdoors, always perform a tick-check. Pay close attention to areas near the openings in clothes, and if needed, get a helper to check hard-to-reach areas, such as your back and entire scalp. Also, thoroughly examine pets, especially around the head and underparts. If a tick is discovered, kill it and dispose of it immediately.
If an embedded tick is discovered, use a pair of sharp tweezers to grasp it as close to the head as possible. Use steady, firm pressure to pull it out as you would a splinter. This method will remove the tick quickly, minimizing the flow of contaminated fluids from the body of the tick into the person or pet. Quick removal, even of an embedded tick, also helps to significantly reduce the likelihood of infection.
Treat your lawn and landscape against ticks to reduce the need for bug spray applications on your body. Use Amdro Quick Kill Lawn Insect Killer Granules at two-month intervals throughout the tick season. Ten pounds treats up to 8,300 square feet. For ornamental beds and natural areas, use Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer RTS (ready-to-spray) or Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer Concentrate for control of blacklegged and brown dog ticks.
Additional ways to reduce the presence of ticks in your landscape include keeping the landscape free of tall grass and overgrown shrubs, mowing the lawn regularly, and cleaning up leaf litter to minimize tick habitats. Placing a three-foot border of wood chips or gravel between lawns and natural areas forms a difficult barrier for ticks to crawl across. Another helpful strategy is to place bird feeders, birdbaths and bird houses to invite tick predators into the landscape.
Minimize your exposure to ticks with repellent and yard treatments, and check for "hitch-hikers" as soon as you come indoors. Always identify the ticks you find, just in case symptoms arise later, and then dispose of them. By taking just a few reasonable precautions, you can enjoy your lawn and garden worry-free.
Amdro Quick Kill is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company
1. "Tick Identification," University of Rhode Island, 2016
2. "Tickborne Diseases of the United States, " Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 8, 2016
3. "Symptoms of Tickborne Illness," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 1, 2015