Tick season is set to explode this year – here’s what you should know to help deter these creepy crawlies

As spring flowers start to bloom and the sun shines brighter we are all looking forward to our next summer vacation.

Many of us will hit the beach, some will plan picnics and others will pack a tent ready to explore the great outdoors. But are you ready for the dangerous pest that accompanies our warm weather — ticks?

Not only do these awful pests cause great discomfort when they bite but they also carry disease. Nearly 60,000 cases of tickborne disease was reported last year, according to the CDC.

This year is predicted to be just as bad due to a mild winter so make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a few handy tips on how to have a tick-free summer.

all life stages of Ixodes scapularis--larva, nymph, adult male, and adult female. Dime in background for scale.
CDC

These creepy crawlies are in the same family as spiders but are tiny, some species are no larger than a pencil point.

Most tick bites are harmless and don’t need medical treatment. But some can carry harmful germs that cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

Ticks have to be removed with tweezers immediately. The affected area must then be washed with soap and water and treated with alcohol.

Signs that you could be infected include a red bump ringed by an expanding red rash, red dots on the ankles and wrists or flu-like symptoms.

But there are things you can do to help prevent a tick bite.

Keep the winter clothes on

It may be hot and humid outside but if you plan on going into a rural, wooded area long-sleeved shirts and pants are the best way to ward off bites.

Wearing white is also recommended as bugs tend to blend in with darker items. Don’t forget to tuck your pants into your socks to protect your legs.

Don’t forget to spray

Give your body that added layer of protection with a spray of insect repellent. Sprays containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to deter ticks are recommended.

You can even spray your clothes with products containing permethrin, which will stay on garments even after you’ve washed them.

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Tick checks

Even if you follow all of the above you should still check your skin for ticks after a trip outside. Tick season lasts from April to October and there isn’t a nation in the U.S. which is tick free.

“Ticks are so small, people sometimes confuse them for a freckle,” Kayla Socarras, a microbiology researcher at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, explains.

To be extra safe have a shower and inspect the hidden regions where ticks love most.  “They like moist areas, like the groin and under your arms,” Socarras adds.

Not just the woods

Ticks are more common in rural and wooded areas but they have also been known to travel to city parks and back yards, especially those with fruit trees.

“In general, you can be bitten by a tick in the most urban of places. It’s a common misconception that you can’t get bitten in the city,” Socarras says. “I would recommend that everyone takes precaution.”

University of Manitoba tick expert Kateryn Rochon has some more handy tips in the video below.

It’s important that we follow this sound advice and have a tick-free summer.

Please share this useful information with all of your friends and family.