Everyone who spends time outdoors eventually meets one of nature’s most stealthy pests: the tick. Ticks aren’t anyone’s favorite visitors, but getting a bite from one of these pests can be worse than you imagine. Tickborne illnesses like Lyme disease are becoming more common in the United States thanks to a combination of mild winter weather and increasing rodent populations in wooded areas.
Luckily, pest control methods are available to help you eradicate the pests so you can enjoy your property.
5 Facts About Ticks
- Ticks are arachnids, which means that they technically aren’t insects. These eight-legged creatures are related spiders and have very little in common with insects like crickets or beetles. Like spiders, ticks are active throughout the year and can be found outdoors any time that the ground isn’t covered in snow.
- Ticks change shape and color after eating. While the round, gray ticks you found on your pet looks entirely different from the black ticks you see crawling on the ground, the two may very well be the same species. It is usually harder to determine the species after it is engorged, or after it has fed because each species becomes a solid color that is either light tan or gray.
- Four species of ticks carry diseases that are transmissible to humans. While only black-legged ticks, which are also called deer ticks, carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, every species of the arachnid found in the state carries one or more bacteria that can cause illness in humans. Other diseases caused by bites include Heartland Virus, babesiosis, and tularemia. According to Purdue University, ticks thrive in moist woodland areas and along borders, such as areas where forests border trails or lawns, and in open, grassy fields.
- Tick borne illness is most commonly transmitted when ticks remain attached for 24 hours or longer. Because tickborne illness isn’t usually transmitted within the first 24 hours, a through examination after spending time outdoors can eliminate the risk of most tickborne illnesses. If you do have a bite, make sure to write down the species that is attached, how long you suspect it has been attached and where you were when you suspect you were bitten. The information can help your doctor provide the appropriate treatment if you become ill after a bite.
- Ticks typically crawl from the ground up. If you want to prevent bites while you are outdoors, the easiest method is to tuck your pants into your boots before spraying a tick repellent on your pants and shoes. Use a repellent that is approved for use on your skin, and opt for a spray that contains DEET for the best prevention. You can also wear light colored clothes so it is easier to see ticks that have crawled past your boots. If you are spending time in the woods or other areas that aren’t treated for pest control, opt for long sleeves and reapply your repellent as recommended on the packaging to maintain its effectiveness.
What Type of Ticks Are In Central Indiana?
Indiana is home to approximately fifteen species of ticks, including black-legged, lone star, brown dog, and American dog ticks. These four species the only types of ticks that are known to transmit tickborne illnesses in the region. Each of these four species is part of the Ixodidae family of hard ticks, while soft species are members of the Argasidae family. Soft species are not currently known to transmit diseases to humans but may be a nuisance when found in large numbers. Hard species are easy to identify because they have visible mouthpieces and a hard plate on their back.
One of the four hard species, only the black-legged known to transmit Lyme disease. Black-legged ticks also carry other illnesses, however, so it is important to visit your doctor if you have any unusual or flu-like symptoms after begin bitten, especially when nymphs are too small to have any easily identifiable characteristics. Nymphs are as small as a grain of sand, but about 30 percent of these tiny arachnids carry disease-causing bacteria. Because the nymphs are so tiny, they are also easy to miss during an examination, which can increase the risk of remaining attached for longer than 24 hours.
What Are The Health Risks of Ticks To Your Family and Pets?
Diseases transmitted by ticks include STARI, spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and paralysis. Paralysis caused by ticks usually resolves within a short time of removal but can be life-threatening when ticks remain undetected after symptoms begin. Pets can also become infected with tickborne illnesses, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, and spotted fever. Dogs can also become infected with anaplasmosis or hepatozoonosis after being bitten.
Like humans, dogs can become infected with tickborne illnesses. Canine anaplasmosis is carried by the black-legged species. This canine illness causes a variety of symptoms in dogs, including fatigue, bleeding gums, and loss of appetite. In both dogs and humans, most symptoms appear within 30 days of the bite, and many symptoms appear within just a few days. A rash is one of the most visible signs that you have a tickborne illness in humans. If you, or your pet, have any unusual or flu-like symptoms after a bite, or if you develop a rash after a bite, seek medical care immediately.
How to remove a tick
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.
What Kind of Damage Can Ticks Do To Your Property and Home?
Ticks are typically found outside the home but can enter wall voids and lay eggs in the insulation. When this happens, you may find scores of the arachnids inside your home or in the crawlspace. Ticks also nest in hidden areas, such as wood piles and under leaf litter. Regular lawn care helps reduce populations on your property, and storing items off the ground is recommended to eliminate possible nesting areas.
Ticks pose a significant risk to both humans and pets when large populations are located on the property. Eradication is the best method of control, especially when you have children or pets who spend time playing outdoors. Tick treatment controls the number of ticks on your property and reduces the risk of becoming infected with a tickborne illness. With the proper tick treatment, both humans and animals can enjoy your home and property throughout the year.