Preventing Tick Bites

In order to be well prepared to prevent tick bites (and tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease), it’s helpful to know some basic facts about ticks and Lyme disease:

  • Deer ticks transmit Lyme disease as well as Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi disease and Powassan virus.
  • Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States according to the CDC. [1]
  • Approximately 95% of Lyme disease is transmitted by a young deer tick called a nymph. The nymph is only about the size of a poppy seed. [2]
  • Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above 32 degrees.
  • Lyme disease is “para-domestic”, meaning approximately 75% of people get Lyme as a result of tick bites gotten in their own backyard , not deep in the woods as many people think. [2]

Prime Tick Habitat

Ticks tend to feed on rodents and rodents tend to live on what we call “the edge”. This is the area at the edge of domestic properties; the 10 feet before and after the intersection of the lawn and the woods. Since the mice, chipmunks, and other rodents live in this area, the ticks do as well.

While you do not need to fear this area, be especially mindful around the edge. If you’re putting in a swing set, don’t be enticed by the shade, keep play equipment out in the open.

Tick Bite Prevention

Since Lyme disease is caused by tick bites, preventing tick bites is the key to lasting health for you and your family.

  • To accomplish this, you can move your children’s play area from the edge of your yard into the center. While you may lose some shade doing this, using extra sunscreen and/or hats will be helpful.
  • You might also want to reconsider where you place your garden or flower beds. You must know that rodents love fresh veggies and pretty flowers and, if they move in on either, the ticks will follow.
  • For a natural tick repellent, I recommend Honey Birch Farms Bug and Tick Spray, which is available by calling my office.
  • Try the Nix Ticks tick control system, which is one of our favorites, is a combination system where your property is sprayed several times a year and placement of small, plastic boxes that hold an insecticide that’s effective against ticks and a bait that’s attractive to mice.. The rodents remove the cotton and the chemical kills the ticks.
  • While wearing long pants and long sleeves taped tight to your skin may be very effective, this is not always a summertime favorite. Try clothing treated with Permethrin, a safe and effective, FDA-approved insecticide that kills ticks and mosquitos on contact. [3] As I mentioned when I was interviewed by Men’s Health, compression shorts and tops can help prevent ticks from having access to some of their favorite spots – the groin and armpits. [4]
  • You should also change your clothes as soon as come inside. Put them in a bag or directly into a hot drier for 15-20 minutes (add 5 minutes if you have an electric dryer) and immediately do a tick check.

Click here for more on preventing tick bites.

Click here for answers to questions about treating Lyme disease.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/why-is-cdc-concerned-about-lyme-disease.html
  2. https://www.ct.gov/caes/lib/caes/documents/publications/bulletins/b1010.pdf
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_people.html
  4. https://www.menshealth.com/health/g20704478/how-to-keep-ticks-off-your-balls/
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