When it comes to common pests, ticks are one of the most dangerous to both people and animals. Ticks are actually arachnids that are responsible for spreading all sorts of diseases, including Lyme disease. Learn more about these pests, how they operate and how you can protect yourself.
Ticks feed on blood, which is why they seek out humans and animals for food. When they are hungry, they will hide in foliage and wait for a food source to walk by. They then reach out with their front legs and latch on to their victim. Typically, they will crawl around and search for a thin patch of skin where they can easily access a blood vessel. Because they are relatively small, about 2 millimeters in size, it is easy for them to go undetected.
While mosquitoes will deliver a quick bite and draw blood, a tick will hang around for 2-3 days and gorge as much as possible. They feed by burrowing their head into the skin, inserting a feeding tube and secreting a mixture that numbs the skin, thins the blood and deters your natural immune system.
Ticks are especially sinister because they can be carrying several diseases at once. As they move from food source to food source, they can both pick up and transmit diseases. While they are most commonly associated with Lyme disease, whose symptoms include chronic joint pain and brain inflammation, they can also infect humans with Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This is a potentially fatal disease that causes fever and nausea and has to be treated with the right antibiotic.
Removing a Tick
There are a lot of folksy remedies for removing a tick, but there is only really one tried and true way that doctors recommend. You will need a pair of pointy tweezers, which should be a staple of any camping or hiking pack. Simply get as close as possible to the head and pull it out of your skin. If the tick breaks, the head will eventually fall out. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. Finally, take a minute to clean the bite with hot water and soap or rubbing alcohol.
Protecting Yourself from Ticks
If you will be out walking or camping in wooded areas, make sure to spray yourself with an insect repellent that has at least 20% DEET. It is also a good idea to regularly do tick checks. Stop every two to three hours to inspect your clothing and body for ticks. Remember that they like to go for sensitive areas, so be thorough and check your belly button, armpits, ears and the backs of knees.
To further protect your family and pets, have your yard professionally sprayed with a tick control treatment. PMi Pest Management offers a wide variety of pest control services, including tick control, that will help you more safely enjoy your outdoor living spaces.