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Safe and Effective Tick Control to Keep Your Outdoor Fun Tick-Free

As the warm weather ushers in the season of outdoor adventures in Upstate New York, it’s not just the sun and fun we need to be ready for—it’s also peak tick season! Whether planning a family picnic, gearing up for a hike, or simply enjoying time in the backyard with your pets, it’s crucial to be aware of the risk ticks pose. But fear not! We’re here to guide you through practical strategies to protect you and your loved ones from these pesky invaders. Let’s dive into how you can enjoy the great outdoors while staying healthy, happy, and protected from ticks.

What is a tick?

There are about 200 species in the United States. Ticks live in tall grass or shrubs. They do not jump or fly; they may drop from their perch and fall onto a host. Some species of ticks actually follow a host by foot until they can climb aboard! Ticks can live as long as 200 days without food or water, and they can live from 2 months to 2 years, depending on the species.

Blacklegged ticks (Deer Ticks) are named because they have a coloring like deer. They are found in the Northeastern, Southeastern, and Midwestern United States. Blacklegged ticks can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

Ticks and Lyme disease

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and local health departments continue to investigate the spread of Lyme disease throughout New York State. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. Untreated, the disease can cause a number of health problems. Patients treated with antibiotics in the early stage of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely. Since Lyme disease first became reportable in 1986, over 120,000 cases have been reported in New York State

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). It may cause symptoms affecting an individual’s skin, nervous system, heart, and/or joints. Over 98,500 cases have been reported to the New York State Department of Health since it became reportable in 1986.

What can I do to prevent Lyme disease?

According to healthNY.gov, Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush, and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls. Deer ticks cannot jump or fly and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.

In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter, and vegetation. However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors, you can still protect yourself:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors, and check again once indoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent. Follow label directions.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Avoid contacting vegetation.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.

Creating a tick-Free zone at home

While deer ticks are most abundant in wooded areas, they are also commonly found in our lawns and shrubs. Homeowners can take several measures to reduce the possibility of being bitten by a tick on their property.

Ticks and their primary hosts – mice, chipmunks, and other small mammals – need moisture, a place away from direct sunlight, and a place to hide. The cleaner you keep the area around the house, the less likely your chances of being bitten by a tick.

Although it may not be possible to create a totally tick-free zone, taking the following precautions will significantly reduce the tick population in your yard.

  • Keep grass mowed.
  • Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn.
  • Restrict the use of groundcover, such as pachysandra, in areas frequented by family and roaming pets.
  • Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
  • Discourage rodent activity. Clean up and seal stonewalls and small openings around the home.
  • Move firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house.
  • Manage pet activity; keep dogs and cats out of the woods to reduce ticks brought into the home.
  • Use plantings that do not attract deer (contact your local Cooperative Extension or garden center for suggestions) or exclude deer through various types of fencing.
  • Move children’s swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland edge and place them on a wood chip or mulch-type foundation.
  • Trim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • Adopt dryer or less water-demanding landscaping techniques with gravel pathways and mulches. Create a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between the lawn and woods or stonewalls. Consider areas with decking, tile, gravel, and border or container plantings in areas by the house or frequently traveled.
  • Widen woodland trails.
  • If you consider a pesticide application as a targeted treatment, do not use any pesticide near streams or any body of water, as it may kill aquatic life or pollute the water itself.

Protecting your pets from tick bites

  • When walking or exercising your pet outdoors, try to keep them away from grassy or wooded areas and leafy debris.
  • Check your pet regularly for ticks, especially after any trips through grassy or wooded areas. Comb through your pet’s hair thoroughly.
  • If you find a find a tick, remove it promptly.
  • Consult your veterinarian about treating your dog or cat with tick-killing pesticides (acaricides) or using tick collars. Many pesticides are aimed at preventing tick bites, but some people and animals may be sensitive to the chemicals they contain.
  • A Lyme disease vaccine is currently available for dogs. However, there are varying opinions on its effectiveness. Consult your veterinarian about the vaccine.
  • If you find several ticks on your dog, you may wish to discuss an insecticidal bath with your veterinarian or groomer.

We can help keep your family and home tick-free.

Ticks are often mistaken for insects, but they are actually arachnids. Regarding tick identification, they are classified into two categories: soft ticks and hard ticks. Soft ticks often feed on bats and birds, while hard ticks feed on humans, pets, and nuisance wildlife. Regardless, if you are dealing with an infestation, a professional exterminator should handle removing ticks from your property. A professional can help you identify the type of ticks you are dealing with and the safest and most efficient process for tick removal. Contact us for tick and other pest control needs.

 

Resources: NYS Department of Health, Pestworld.org, Pestworldforkids.org,

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