Second to mosquitoes, ticks are the most harmful pests to humans. Thanks to changes in our farming practices and climate, ticks are coming closer to human residences.Ticks are known for transmitting many deadly diseases including tick fever or Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Fever, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. So if you think ticks do not hide inside the house or “they don’t bite me”, think again. No one is safe from ticks and you must take all kinds of precautions to prevent tick bites, especially if you are living in an infested area.
What attracts ticks to yards?
Ticks love to hide in tall grass. So if you have been a lazy homeowner having grass blades measuring more than 3 inches, then you have created thousands of hiding places for ticks. Add to this some clutter like rotting wood and wood chips, swing-sets, old furniture, toys and broken bikes under the deck and you are also likely inviting tick hosts such as rodents, possums and other wild life. These animals are infested with ticks and they drop tick larvae and eggs wherever they nest. So remember, if you want a tick-free yard, you must fastidiously mow and trim your yard. You will also want to minimize clutter by removing items you no longer use.This way, ticks will not have a place to hide outside your home.
What attracts ticks to homes?
Most pet owners will have ticks lying dormant inside their homes. Tick season usually begins as soon as the weather turns warmer. But that does not mean that you and your pets are safe from ticks in winters. Ticks lie dormant in the cooler months and upon finding a host, complete their blood meals to proceed through various life cycle stages. Ticks are known to hide inside cracks and crevices found in floors and on furniture. Your pets can also bring ticks home and drop the larvae and eggs under the furniture, in carpets and rugs as well as your beds. You could unknowingly bring ticks into your home after you have come back from a hike in the woods.
What color are ticks attracted to?
According to Dr. Tracy Zivin Tutela of New Jersey, ticks are attracted to light colors. She therefore instructs hikers and campers to wear dark colored clothes when going on kikes along infested trails. Dr. Zivin Tutela also cautions people to wear long sleeved shorts and full pants tucked inside socks. If possible, repel ticks by spraying your shoes and clothes with permethrin based repellents. You need to spray these insecticides every 2 hours as their effect wears off.
Carbon-dioxide attracts ticks
Almost all bugs including bed bugs, ticks and fleas search for potential hosts by sniffing out carbon dioxide. Human and animals all give out carbon dioxide while exhaling and especially while sleeping.Ticks reach out to potential hosts by tracking the carbon dioxide levels and heat radiated by them.
Ticks don’t bite me!
This one is a myth! Ticks usually seek out all kinds of mammals for their blood meals. In absence of pets they will bite humans. When a tick bites human skin, it injects certain enzymes through its saliva into the skin. This enzyme helps prevent the blood from coagulating , which helps the tick suck out the blood with ease. Some individuals are highly sensitive to this saliva and the body secretes histamines to counter the proteins in the tick saliva. The histamine leads to swelling, blisters and redness. However, many people are not sensitive to saliva proteins and may not develop allergic reaction. So although they are getting bit, they might think ticks do not bite them. This proves one thing: no one is safe from ticks and everyone should use tick protection especially when living in infested areas.
Should you squash a tick?
If you find a tick embedded in your skin (or your pet’s skin), do not use your hands to pull it out. Instead use a pair of tweezers or forceps to gently remove them from the skin. Whatever you do, do not crush or squash the tick as its infected blood might enter a tiny cut on your skin causing various complications. If you have an engorged tick which you have safely removed, it is best to bag it and label it with the date and area you found it. This can help your local hospital staff identify the tick species. Watch out for signs and symptoms of tick fever which could occur anywhere within 3-10 days after the tick has bitten you. Seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms like dizziness, fever, unexplained fatigue, joint ache, skin rash, nausea, headache and/or vomiting.
Ticks are not picky at all. They will attach to any host, including amphibians, for their blood meal. This makes ticks very dangerous. So if you are living in an infested area, make sure you take all kinds of precautions to prevent tick bites.