This isn’t our favorite subject either, but once spring hits we all want to get out into the garden as early as possible. Yet each season it seems ticks want to join us earlier and earlier too. Since we advocate everyone should spend lots of time in the garden or anywhere outdoors really, we thought we’d pass along some useful info to help you avoid nature’s biggest dangerous tiny pest.
Generally, ticks prefer moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas more than they like cultivated lands like gardens, but you’re wise to be aware these little buggers can be anywhere and check yourself, your children and pets for them after spending any time outdoors.
There are several natural and plant-based insect repellents that help guard against these microscopic bullies: Burt’s Bees, Repel, Cutter and OFF! Botanicals. There are also heavy-duty DEET sprays. Remember some highly chemical-based sprays should only be sprayed on your clothes, not directly on your skin. Always read and follow label directions for any spray you use.
Truth is no amount of bug spray, natural or chemical, will guarantee you’re tick-free when you go back inside. So it’s best to check after every outing into the garden, the yard, the park, and the woods.
How to check for ticks:
- Check your clothing for ticks and remove any you find.
Note: We’ve heard adhesive lint roller can grab ticks off you and your pets! Run it over you clothes and body, and your dogs. Cats? We leave this up to you. Let us know how that works out.
- Running your clothes though the dryer on high heat for at least an hour effectively kills ticks.
- Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within a couple hours of coming indoors reduces your risk of getting a tick-borne disease. Showering may wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
If you find an attached tick:
Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it. Grab the tick with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Illustrated instructions here.
About Tick-borne Illnesses:
More and more illnesses are being attributed to ticks, including the recently discovered Bourbon virus. It seems there’s another every time you turn around, so it’s worth staying aware.
Lyme Disease is probably the most commonly mentioned tick-born disease, but there are other diseases prevalent in other regions so be sure to investigate any unexplained symptoms you have after removing a tick.
Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on several factors, where you live, what type of tick it was, and how long the tick was attached. Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever in the days and weeks following a tick bite. Other symptoms might include body or muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, stiff neck, facial paralysis. See a health care provider if any of these develop.
By avoiding known tick-infested areas and taking a few minutes to check for ticks when you come indoors, you can enjoy your outdoor time without being bothered by ticks. It just takes a little knowledge and common sense to stay safe.
Co-Author of Garden Candy Basics