While the summer months are a wonderful, welcome relief from a Massachusetts winter, they come as a blessing and a curse — a blessing because of the lovely weather, and a curse from the infernal bugs that love to make our lives miserable.
In Gloucester and the surrounding areas, you’re probably already well aware of how common mosquitoes and ticks are. While we’ve written a couple of blogs about mosquitoes, in this post, we’ll turn our attention towards ticks. Because, let’s face it — while mosquitoes are a downright nuisance, many people would take them in an instant over ticks.
Ticks are nasty, they burrow into their hosts, they cause gross bites, and they can spread Lyme disease. There’s really nothing at all to love about ticks, and they’re much more annoying to deal with than mosquitoes. So, let’s take a look at some tick prevention tips you can put into practice this summer.
Know How Ticks Work
Knowledge is power, and that doesn’t stop being true in the case of ticks. The first step to avoiding tick bites is to know their modus operandi. To find their hosts, ticks love to sit at the very tip of leaves, grass, and stalks with their front legs spread open widely. That’s right — the little pests literally sit there and wait for someone to pass by that they can attach to.
When an unlucky human or animal brushes by the plant, a tick grabs onto them and holds on for dear life. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’ve got a tick bite — and maybe even a tick resting comfortably in your skin. Yuck.
So, with that in mind, be cognizant of any areas where ticks might be lurking. Knowing how ticks work is essential to almost all the other points on this list.
Stay Out of Tick Turf
With the above point being said, one way to avoid tick exposure is to avoid where they’re hanging out in the first place. Obviously, you don’t have a sixth sense that can detect where ticks are, so there’s no way to have this down to an exact science. But since ticks like to hang out in natural areas where there is likely to be frequent passersby, keep this in mind before you go foraging into any areas ripe with plantlife.
Do you usually cross through some brush as a shortcut in one of your routine walking routes? Consider skipping it. Do you want to wander off the trail in a scenic hike? Maybe stay on the beaten path instead. There is no way to completely ensure that you won’t run into a tick if you’re anywhere with plantlife, but if you’re generally thinking about where ticks would and wouldn’t be, you may just save yourself from a bite.
Stay in the Sun and Avoid Highly Humid Areas
Here’s another protip about ticks — like mosquitoes, they love to congregate in shady, moisture-heavy areas. But unlike mosquitoes, they quite literally can’t survive in areas that aren’t humid, which means a lot of lucky punks in the western US don’t even have to deal with them at all.
But for you, in Massachusetts, this means that you’re better off spending time in areas that get a lot of sun. Ticks can die from spending eight or more hours in a non-humid location, and they know this. As a result, they’re unlikely to camp out in spots that are blasted by sunlight for several hours of the day.
Your mileage will vary here, because it’s not about the sun specifically — it’s about the humidity level. But high levels of sunlight reduce moisture, so it’s a good place to start.
There are various types of tick repellant — some that you can apply to your clothes and body, and others that you can apply to your property. If you’ve had it up to here with ticks, it’s time to consider using some.
For personal application, you’ll benefit from doing some research on what is proper tick repellant. While common bug sprays are quite effective at deterring mosquitoes, their active ingredient is DEET — which won’t always stop a tick. Nasty ticks can get inside of you, and DEET only covers the surface of your body, which ticks are more than capable of crawling across, even if it’s covered in bug spray.
Keep an eye out for sprays and repellants which specifically are designed to prevent ticks. As far as your yard goes, the best practice is to avoid using hazardous pesticides. These will stop the bugs, yes, but they can also have adverse effects on everything else they touch. The best course of action for tick-proofing your yard is to call a company who specializes in all-natural tick-prevention services, such as CleanPro.
While you might not have a choice in the matter if you’re going to, say, an outdoor wedding, in any situation where you have full control over your outfit, you’ll thank yourself later if you strategically dress to avoid ticks. Here are a couple tips:
Cover Yourself Up: Don’t fret — we’re not saying you need to go full eskimo, but covering your skin can go a long way. Maybe save your short-shorts for a day out on the town, and wear pants instead if you’re going to be walking through nature-heavy areas. Consider wearing socks and shoes in place of sandals, and put on a thin shirt that with long sleeves that can cover your arms with necessary. Some ticks are minuscule and can navigate through your clothes, but it’s better than nothing.
Wear Light Clothing: Ticks don’t take the color of your clothes into account, so you’re not really reducing the likelihood of ticks by wearing pants. However, it does make them a lot easier to spot if they do happen to grab on to you. Light clothing often allows you to identify ticks before they become a problem.
Keep an Eye on Your Pets
Even if you’re doing your very best to stay away from ticks, your pet dog or cat doesn’t know better. You can fully expect them to be romping through plantlife every chance they get. While they may not be a fan of it, you’ll benefit from giving your dog an inspection before they’re allowed back inside, or even a bath with the hose. This doesn’t have to be miserable — you can always do it in a way where it doesn’t feel like a punishment. But you’ll be glad you did it, since ticks can easily spread from an animal to a human.
It’s also wise to protect your property from rodents and other small animals as much as is reasonably possible. Certain fences can keep out critters such as rabbits, who could very well be harboring ticks when they hop into your yard.
Call for Tick-Prevention Services
While we briefly mentioned it above, it’s important to give special consideration to professional tick-prevention services, because sometimes the biggest tick problem isn’t when you’re out and about, it’s at home, right in your lawn. Certain homes can harbor ticks whenever they’re in season, and no matter how many of the above steps you take, sometimes it’s just not enough to avoid them.
If you’ve been having a tick problem that you just can’t seem to get rid of, consider calling CleanPro for our Mosquito and Tick Prevention program. We can service your lawn with all-natural chemicals which will drive ticks and mosquitoes away. While these don’t have permanent effects, you can sign up for a recurring service where we will give your property a refresh before the repellant wears off. This means you can be armed against ticks during all times of the year — or at least, the seasons where ticks are out.
Want to get started? Contact CleanPro today for a free quote.