Our mild winter may have had some benefits, but knocking back the tick population was definitely not one of them. There are already reports of people finding ticks on their dogs. That means it’s likely to be a tough season for tick-borne diseases. As usual, the deer tick is the most common species of tick people and domestic animals will be encountering on a regular basis, followed closely by the lone star tick. Ticks are found across the United States and many of them carry diseases.
This early in the season ticks are small and very hard to see, however even these nymph ticks can spread infectious diseases. The best way to avoid tick bites is by preventing tick bites.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), creating a “tick-free zone” in your yard is vital to ensuring that your family is protected from the diseases that are transmitted by ticks. Some of these diseases include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, among others.
- Remove leaf litter
- Clear tall grass and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns
- Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas
- Mow the lawn frequently
- Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents)
- Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees
- Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences
- Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide
Ticks feed on blood meals so it’s important to remove them as quickly as possible once they are found so they don’t have a chance to transmit diseases. Tick removal should be done with a tweezer by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling up with steady, even pressure. After removing the tick be sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
By following these tips you will greatly reduce your risk of both encountering ticks in your yard and of catching the diseases they carry.