Tick Season is Here…
A variety of tick species are prevalent in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast in the United States.
One of the most common types of tick — the black-legged tick, also known as the “deer tick” is the main carrier of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
When left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to debilitating long-term health problems caused by an infection that spreads to the joints and connective tissue. The infection causes pain, fatigue, and even cognitive problems that may continue after antibiotic treatment is over.
As if Lyme disease weren’t enough, black-legged ticks also carry a host of other diseases including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus disease. While rare, these diseases can all be severe and life-threatening.
Lone star ticks, another tick found in the Connecticut region, are relatively new to the area, having expanded their range from the South to the Northeast. This species of tick can carry microbes that cause ehrlichiosis, an infection with symptoms including mild fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. Roughly half of those infected with ehrlichiosis end up hospitalized, and about 1-2% of cases are fatal.2 Lone star ticks can also spread a rare disease called tularemia, which causes enlarged spleen and liver, skin ulcers, and fever.
Dog ticks, endemic in the northeast, carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics.
What can you do about preventing tick bites?
While ticks are a real concern for those enjoying the outdoors, there are ways you can mitigate exposure to tick bites. First, be aware of ticks. Learn to look for them and identify the various types and life stages.
Keep in mind that size varies from the extremely tiny larvae to the larger (but still tiny) adult female. All ticks are significantly smaller than a dime, as shown in the below illustration of a black-legged tick.
When hiking or walking in nature, stay on marked trails and paths, and avoid walking through tall grass or heavy foliage. Ticks stick to leaves and grass and cling to people and animals as they walk by. You can also spray your skin and clothes with tick/insect repellent prior to heading out on the trail.
Make sure you check for ticks after every outing. It can also be helpful to wear light-colored clothing, so you can easily spot ticks which are dark brown to black in color. Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants that you tuck into your socks is also a good way to prevent ticks from clinging to your skin, where they may go unnoticed.
Reduce tick populations in your yard
Ticks aren’t just prevalent on trails in the Northeast. They’re also present in yards, parks, and common outdoor areas wherever deer, birds, and other wild animals forage.
Millette Pest Control can help reduce ticks in yards by treating them in spring, at the start of tick season. Things you can do to reduce tick reproduction may include removing trees or brush to expose shaded areas to sunlight which reduces moisture (ticks thrive in moist environments), removing or dispersing leaf litter, thick ground cover, fallen rocks, and firewood piles.
Vigilance and education help reduce exposure to ticks
Awareness and preventive measures go a long way to reducing exposure to ticks. Start by familiarizing yourself with the types of ticks that are prevalent in your region. Assess your yard for areas where tick habitats are likely to be, and address problem areas at the start of tick season.
Awareness extends to any outdoor activity. Be sure to take preventative measures to reduce tick exposure by staying on trails, wearing light colored clothing with long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks. Treat pets with preventative products such as tick repellent collars and medications, and be sure to check pets and people often, particularly after being outside.
If your tick problem is severe, hiring Millette Pest Control will help ensure that your yard does not become a haven for ticks, and remains a safe place for you and your family, free from these tiny, disease-bearing pests.