Tick Awareness Week: How to Protect Your Family and Property from Ticks
Tick Awareness Week - May 7 - 13 of this year - is used by the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), which serves as the public outreach arm of the iNational Pest Management Association (NPMA), to educate the public about the health threats posed by ticks.
Although ticks are commonly associated with the Northeast United States, they have been found across the entire country, which means that everyone should be aware of the dangers they pose and how to identify them.
How to Identify Ticks
There are several different types of ticks that you are likely to find throughout the U.S. The most common are:
- American Dog Ticks - These ticks have flat, oval-shaped, dark brown bodies with whitish-gray markings. This is one of the most common ticks and is the primary carrier of the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Blacklegged Deer Ticks - These ticks have black legs with a reddish-orange body and black shield. Although they transmit many illnesses, they are known as the agent of Lyme Disease.
- Brown Dog Ticks - As the name implies, these ticks have reddish-brown bodies narrow in shape. Dogs serve as the primary host for these pests, which are known to transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks - These ticks are also reddish-brown in color but have teardrop-shaped bodies. They are the primary vector of Colorado Tick Fever Virus as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.
Ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, shrubs, debris, and around bodies of water. They usually hide in dark, moist spots such as cracks in pavement, yard brush, or in soil. They feed on the blood of other creatures, and will often climb up tall grasses to hitch a ride to its next meal.
Tick Diseases to Watch Out For
Ticks are transmitters for some nasty diseases that can have lasting effects for your family and pets. The two most common are:
- Lyme Disease
The CDC estimates that approximately 476,000 people may get Lyme Disease in the U.S. every year. This disease is transmitted from an infected Blacklegged Deer Tick and appears as a bullseye-shaped rash at the bite site. Initial symptoms typically include chills and joint pain, but Lyme Disease can also cause devastating long-term effects such as arthritis and damage to the nervous system.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
This disease can be transmitted from several tick species. Initial symptoms include a headache, fever, and rash, but can progress into a life-threatening condition if not treated with proper antibiotics. If left long enough, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can result in limb amputation, hearing loss, paralysis, and even mental disability.
How to Prevent Tick Bites
As summer approaches, it is critical to take ticks seriously to protect you and your family. There are some preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of exposure.
- When walking in areas with tall grass, shrubs, and brush, wear long sleeves and pants to cover as much skin as possible. Consider wearing light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot a tick.
- Check yourself, family members, and pets thoroughly after spending time outside so that you can identify and remove ticks as soon as possible.
- Wash clothing and gear in hot water or dry items on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may have hitched a ride.
- Remove debris from your yard and keep grass trimmed to reduce the chances of ticks hiding on your property.
For ultimate peace of mind, consider using a professional pest management service like Pestmaster. We offer tick control services to rid them from your home as well as provide preventative treatments to keep them away. We offer customizable solutions and will first conduct a thorough assessment of your home and diagnose any problems we find before beginning any treatments.