If you're going into an area that's likely to be infested with ticks, there are several simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of being bitten. Here's a rundown:
- Wear light-colored clothing. This makes it easier to see ticks crawling on your clothes. A good trick for removing ticks crawling on clothing is to pick them up with a loop of tape.
- Wear long sleeves, and tuck your pants into your socks or boots.
- Wear a hat.
- If you're working in the yard, wear work gloves.
- Spray your clothing with an insect repellent containing DEET. Avoid spraying your skin, since long-term DEET exposure can lead to reactions like hives and blisters. Follow the label instructions carefully, and don't rely on the repellent to completely prevent tick exposure. Some ticks will crawl over areas sprayed with repellents until they reach a person's skin.
Ticks can make animals sick, too, so it's a good idea to keep ticks away from your pets:
- Keep pets indoors when possible, and inspect outdoor pets for ticks regularly.
- Following directions carefully, treat your pets with an insecticide or repellent that targets ticks. Some flea treatments work on ticks as well.
- Clean kennels and crates thoroughly, paying attention to cracks and crevices where ticks may lay their eggs.
You can get a good idea of whether you have an infestation on your property by dragging a white, rough-textured cloth through areas that might be prone to ticks. If the cloth collects lots of ticks, you have an infestation. A good rule of thumb is that the neater your yard appears, the less likely it is to be infested with ticks. Ticks like to live in overgrown weeds, leaf litter and decaying wood, so it's good to clean up any such areas in your yard.
If you discover an infestation, it's a good idea to treat your home, your property and your pet at the same time. However, treating your entire lawn with a pesticide may do more harm than good. Ticks generally live in tall grass, weeds and shrubs, so they don't spend much time in mown grass. If you're treating your property with a pesticide, focus on shrubs and overgrown areas you can't reach with a lawn mower. Any time you're using a pesticide, follow the label instructions to the letter.
Getting rid of ticks can take a little persistence. If commercial tick-control products don't do the trick, contact your local exterminator for assistance. To learn more about ticks, fleas and other related topics, check out the links on the next page.