Although many of us love the pleasant weather and fun activities that summer can bring, we’re certainly not the only ones. Indeed, insects love the warm temperatures, too. And while mosquitoes might be the bane of your existence and termites cause over $5 billion in property damage every year, these aren’t the only bugs that can wreak havoc in your life during this season. If you’re spending any time outside over the next few months, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid the threats that ticks can bring. Here are just a few tips that will ensure you stay tick-free — and that you’ll know exactly what to do if you spot one of these creatures.
Learn What to Avoid and What to Wear
A whole 60% of households report that one of its residents has gone camping. And if you intend to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, prevention is the best method to ensure you and your family stay safe. After all, there are an estimated 200 million insects per human on the planet. Even though ticks are technically arachnids, it’s always a good idea to use repellents registered by the EPA, including ones with DEET, picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. In addition to spraying these repellants on yourself, you may also want to treat your clothing and outdoor gear with permethrin, which is a pesticide that kills ticks. Just make sure to use each of those products for its intended use. Since ticks can’t jump or fly, you should attempt to steer away from grasses and shrubs (as they can only get to you if they climb). However, that’s not always possible. As a precaution, you should wear socks, long pants, and close-toed shoes so that you can tuck your pant legs into your socks and protect yourself. If you can, opt for light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot.
Know How to Protect Your Pup
Don’t forget that humans aren’t the only ones vulnerable to tick activity. If you live in one of the almost 85 million households across the U.S. that own a pet, you’ll want to take precautions to protect your furry friend. When they attach to a dog host, for example, ticks will start to feed on that dog’s blood. While some dogs may not exhibit symptoms, ticks can sometimes cause anemia or paralysis, as well as some of the same diseases humans can contract (like Lyme and Rocky Mountain spotted fever). Since these can cause arthritis, fever, lameness, and other serious symptoms, you’ll want to avoid this scenario as best you can. Since most dogs benefit from daily aerobic exercise and a 30-minute walk, you’ll want to use preventative medications recommended by your veterinarian to keep your pup safe when they’re outside. These medications are supposed to kill ticks and make them fall off so that they can’t harm your dog or invade your home. However, you should also conduct a thorough visual inspection after your dog has been outdoors and remove any ticks you might find in the same method you use for yourself.
Recognize the Symptoms and Seek Help
Lyme disease is the scariest and most well-known condition that ticks can spread, and you should certainly take it seriously. But it’s actually not the only health concern for which ticks are responsible. They can also spread several different bacterial diseases (such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis). They can even carry viruses like tick fever and Powassan, both of which can be highly damaging. Ticks can also cause allergic reactions due to a bite. While you may not know which disease you’re dealing with, it’s essential to seek medical attention if you experience fever, rashes, muscle aches, fatigue, weakness, stomach issues, and other types of pain that persist.
Because ticks tend to attach to the areas under the arms, around the ears and hair, or inside the belly button, you should make a practice of conducting a full-body check after you’ve gone into any grassy or wooded areas. If you know for sure you’ve been bitten, you’ll want to use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick; grab as close as you can to the skin’s surface and pull upward with even pressure. Clean the area and your hands thoroughly after removal and take plenty of photos and videos of the tick so it can be identified. You can then dispose of it by dropping it in alcohol, flushing it down the toilet, putting it in a sealed bag or container, or wrapping it in tape. You should also wash your clothing on high heat and monitor for any symptoms of tick-borne illnesses in the coming days and weeks. As a bonus, you can quickly spread the word and identify the type of tick using a free tick app, which is helping scientists gather valuable information about this type of insect activity and spread awareness about the dangers associated with ticks.
Ticks and other insects probably aren’t your favorite topic, but it’s essential to become familiar with where they’re found, what they can do, and how to keep yourself (and your loved ones) safe this summer. With these tips in mind, you shouldn’t be faced with a scary health situation any time soon.