Top Ten Facts About Ticks
Lyme disease – and the ticks that transmit the uncomfortable, potentially serious condition – seem as inevitable a part of summer as sizzling hot days. But you can protect yourself. The first rule: Know your enemy. Here, from a producer of insect repellents, are ten things you might not know about these annoying insects.
1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable
There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, wearing tick repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month and getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan are all great actions for preventing tick bites.
2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites
An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing (shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt) with an insect repellent such as Insect Shield (www.insectshiel.com/basics), built in.
3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer
Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab the tiniest ticks right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter.
4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin
And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it’s important to know what you’re really looking for. They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.
5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection
Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.
6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria
The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world.
7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes
Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.
8. Ticks can be active even in the winter
That’s right! Deer ticks in particular are not killed by freezing temperatures, and will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen.
9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes
10. Ticks crawl up
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body.