With the warm weather here and more opportunities to spend time outdoors, it’s important to remember these tips to prevent ticks from affecting your summer. Be sure to protect yourself, pets and your property from ticks.
The most effective way to avoid ticks when outdoors is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation. However, if you hike, camp, hunt, work or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself.
- Learn more about tick-borne diseases, prevention and proper removal.
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
- Wear enclosed shoes. If wearing long pants and sleeves tuck your pant legs into socks or boots, and shirt into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks when you are outdoors.
- Avoid dense woods and bushy areas, as tick climb upwards to find hosts.
- After going indoors at the end of the day, do a full-body tick check and try to bathe or shower within two hours of returning to more easily spot ticks that may be on you. Be sure to check your pets as well.
- In your yard, reduce shady and damp areas and clear any leaf litter or seeds from the ground.
- Replace plants that deer love to browse with deer-resistant plants. Consider installing a deer fence to help reduce deer from dispersing ticks.
- An extremely effective way to kill ticks on exposed clothing is to tumble the clothing in a dryer set on high heat for at least 10 minutes.
If your risk from ticks is unacceptable, choose your method of pesticide application carefully. Before application, be aware of where pets frequent the property. For personal protection, there are two classes of products you might see on the shelf:
Products that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are repellents. These products interfere with the host-finding abilities of biting insects, making you hard to find.
Products that contain permethrin and some plant-based oils are pesticides that kill these organisms on contact. They can be used to treat clothing, hats, shoes, and gear, but, for safety reasons, should never be applied to the skin. Visit the New York State Pesticide Administration Database (NYSPAD) to search for personal insect repellents registered in NY for personal use.
For further information and tips, visit DEC’s “Be Tick Free” page, email PestMgt@dec.ny.gov or call (518) 402-8748.
Photo of Tick with dime courtesy DEC.
I took all the precautions that were listed in the tips to avoid getting bit, and I still contracted Lymes Disease even though I never saw the tick that bit me. I spoke with my doctor and told him that I was suspicious of the other bites I received from black flies, mosquitoes and deer flies as the possible cause, but he said it was highly unlikely because they don’t spread this disease. I’m still highly skeptical about this.
I, too, contracted Lyme disease from a tick I never saw. But I was lucky enough to develop a rash followed by a fever and a pounding headache, so it was easy to suspect Lyme. And since the bite was under my waistband, there are really no other critters that would be likely to be able to have gotten there. Deer ticks are REALLY tiny and easy to miss. So much so that I find these articles kind of amusing: yes, sure, take all the precautions, but don’t kid yourself. Unless you’re willing to expose yourself to unhealthy amounts of insecticide, (and walk around in hot weather with your long pants tucked into your socks) the best you can do is reduce your risk somewhat.
Your doctor should have told you that is not only highly unlikely that other insects vector this disease but that it is impossible. In fact the organism that vectors lyme is not an insect but an arachnid.
Avoiding ticks is becoming as difficult as avoiding mosquitoes and black flies, but unfortunately, about as effective. Many people and animals that have been exposed to these bacteria have no serious symptoms – at least initially. Certainly a bull’s-eye rash shouldn’t be ignored, but doesn’t always occur. In reality, any flu-like symptoms should be considered a Lyme symptom. But distressingly, the testing we currently employ for Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses often will not return a positive result early-on in the infection.
The best possible scenario would be the development of a vaccine or preventive treatment, in conjunction with avoidance. It is unfortunate this had to turn into a full-scale epidemic to be taken seriously and thus given the funds needed to study and develop effective testing and treatments. Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses have been around a long time, but the explosion of the tick population was not anticipated. I anticipate a great deal of disability due to neuropathy and arthropathy in the future from tick-borne diseases. As usual, it will likely prove to be more expensive NOT to have addressed the problem at an earlier point in time.
It would be good to see clothing treated with permethrin get much more emphasis in this article. I have been wearing permethrin treated clothing for the last year, whenever yard work takes me beyond the lawn and into the flowers, weeds, and woods. In that year, I have not found any ticks on my clothing or body. I used to find at least 5 or 6 a summer.
My pants are No-Fly-Zone from LL Bean, and shirt and socks are home-treated with Sawyer spray-on permethrin. They both work well, but the commercially treated items last for 70 washes vs 6 for the home-treated. But of course you can simply spray the home treated items again.
To test the effectives of the pants, I took a live tick on my sneaker (I had briefly ventured off the lawn without my tick-proof clothing!) and carefully placed in on the pants, which were lying flat on a table. The tick was fine at first, but staggering after 10 minutes, and dead after 20 minutes. So permethrin actually kills ticks. But from what I have heard, the best effect is that they simply drop off quickly when the toxin begins to work on them.
Permethrin is relatively safe for humans because we have the ability to detoxify it, and insects don’t. Caution is required with cats and fish, as they don’t detoxify it well. So just keep your camping and garden clothes away from your cat, and be careful not to spill any permethrin in any body of water.
I have started to use Sawyer permethrin this year and have had good luck so far. But I also believe the numbers of ticks on my property are generally down this year compared to the last few years.
I have also started using Tick Tubes which are nothing more than cardboard tubes filled with permethrin-treated cotton balls. Field mice supposedly take the cotton and use it for their nesting material. This kills the ticks on the mice, supposedly eliminating a vector. I have no idea if or how well they work.
Permethrin is the way to go if you want to be tick free. My son had a summer job last year working for a survey crew, the first day he had 15 ticks on his clothing at the end of the day. After that he treated his clothing and boots with permethrin every two weeks and didn’t pick up a tick all season. His co-workers didn’t take my advice and removed ticks every day. I have been using it on my hunting clothing for the last few years and since that time have been tick free. A $7 can will cover several articles of clothing