Tick Encounters Can Be a Daily Occurrence
Preventative measures should be observed year round with special attention taken May through October, protect yourself.
7 Easy Steps To Stay Safe In the Case of a Tick Encounter
- Be aware of tick endemic areas and keep to the middle of hiking trails and walk ways (ticks thrive in shady humid areas with leaf litter and low brush).
- The single most important thing you can do is check yourself for ticks daily.
- Prompt removal of an embedded tick will greatly reduce the chances of the tick transmitting disease. Use a pair of pointed tweezers or tick removal tool.
- Place clothing in the dryer on high for 20 minutes after being outdoors.
- Chemically-treated clothing (permethrin) and use of Deet on skin are two more tools that people should consider adding to their personal tick protection plans, in addition to frequent tick checks and proper tick removal. For additional information view the Tick Repellent Fact Sheet (PDF).
- Treat your pets. Perform a body scan of legs, belly and head after a walk to remove the ticks before they are brought into your home or car. Apply a topical tick repellent monthly. Consult your vet about the best products to use.
- Create a yard environment unsuitable for ticks. Remove leaf litter and brush around your house, trim the lawn to 2 inches and keep shrubs, bushes and plants trimmed neatly. Also consider using pyrethrin treated products like TickTubes to reduce mice populations and or have a licensed professional Pest Control Company perform perimeter spray of your yard.
Tick Encounters in Your Yard and What to Do
You don't have to be walking in the woods to be bitten by a tick. You can be in your own backyard! Ticks like damp, shady, brushy, leafy areas, where they can wait for a person or an animal (like a deer or a mouse) to come by. The tick waits for direct contact with a passing person or animal. Reducing ticks in your yard means making your yard less attractive to ticks, and less attractive to animals that carry ticks, like mice and deer.
Is your yard damp with shrubs and shade? Are there rotting leaves along fences, wood piles, or rock walls? If the answer is yes, your yard may be attractive to ticks and to animals that carry ticks like deer and mice. Reduce the number of ticks around your home by following these steps:
- Keep grass cut short. Ticks are more likely to be found in taller, unkempt grasses and shrubs, where they wait to attach to a passing person or animal.
- Remove leaf litter and brush from around your home. "Leaf litter" refers to decomposing leaves where ticks can live, that can be raked up and removed.
- Prune low lying bushes to let in more sunlight (keeps the yard from being so damp and shady, so ticks will be less attracted to the yard).
- Keep wood piles and bird feeders off the ground and away from your home. This will make your yard less attractive to mice and other small rodents that can carry ticks.
- Keep the plants around stone walls cut short.
- Use a 3-foot-wide wood chip, mulch or gravel barrier where your lawn meets the woods. Ticks are less likely to cross the barrier into the lawn because they are prone to drying out. It also serves as a reminder that people who cross the barrier into the wooded area may be at higher risk of getting ticks.
- Ask your local nursery about plants to use in your yard that do not attract deer. Deer can carry ticks into your yard.
- Use deer fencing for yards larger than 15 acres.
View a video on How to Prevent Tick Bites
If you have been bitten by a tick and wish to have it tested to determine if it is a carrier for Lyme, Babesiosis or Anaplasmmois (this will not tell you if you have been infected.)
For additional information contact:
- Laboratory of Medical Zoology
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
View the Laboratory of Medical Zoology website