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Tis the Season of Ticks

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
April 8, 2015        
           
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

Release Date:  April 13, 2015


Tis the Season of Ticks
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (04/08/15) — With the periods of warm weather we’ve had this spring, and the consistently warmer temperatures that are just around the corner; tis the season for ticks. As you begin your yard and garden chores, or just enjoy walks in natural areas, be aware that several insects are ready to welcome you back to the outdoors too.  Ticks will inhabit woodlands and tall grassy areas and not only target your pets but also you. 

Minnesota is home to 13 known species of ticks, with the majority known as “hard ticks,” meaning they have fairly hard bodies with a plate-like shield behind the head.  Most often only a few of these species impact humans including the American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, and the blacklegged tick, formerly called the deer tick; pets are also impacted by the brown dog tick.

Of course ticks are a pest to humans and our pets because they bite and feed on blood.  Blacklegged ticks, formerly called deer ticks, can potentially transmit disease organisms that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis, Powassan encephalitis, and human anaplasmosis. 

Prevention is the best method to reduce encounters with ticks.  Simply staying on trails or out of tall grass can reduce your chances.  Wearing appropriate clothing can also reduce exposure. Wear protective clothing such as light-colored, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and tucking pants into your socks can give additional protection.  This gives you a barrier and allows you to look for ticks on the clothing before they come in contact with your skin.

If avoiding potential risk areas is not possible or desired, using a repellant, which deters ticks from biting is also an option.  Effective repellents contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and permethrin.  Apply repellent with 20-30% DEET to your clothing and skin for several hours of protection.  There appears to be evidence that products with higher concentrations do not necessarily add additional protection.  When using products with permethrin, apply only to clothing, which will remain effective for several outings.  It is critical when using any repellent or insecticide to read the label and directions carefully, especially when using on children. Be sure not to over apply.

To reduce tick populations near your home, keep a maintained mowed area where people and pets frequent.  Also, it is important to clear away brush and fallen leaves near your home.  Other tips are to place lawn furniture and play equipment in sunny areas in the yard.  Be aware that bird feeders and wood piles attract tick-carrying mice, chipmunks, and other mammals, so keep them far from the home. Finally, insecticides are available to be applied to the edge of the lawn near woodlands or brushy areas. Purchase and use an insecticide containing permethrin, cyfluthrin, or carbaryl labeled for turf areas.  Again be sure to read the label and follow directions.

Another important tip is to thoroughly inspect yourself, your children, and pets after being outdoors. Inspect your clothes, shoes, hair, and of course skin.  Recommendations are to do a thorough body check followed by a shower and drying off vigorously with a towel. If a biting tick is discovered while checking the body, grasp the tick with a tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and pull the tick straight out; avoid twisting as it may break the head of the insect off which could lead to infection.

Ticks are definitely a pest no one enjoys dealing with; take the appropriate precautions to protect you and your pets.  Thorough inspection after an outing can help keep you and your pets safe.

For more information on ticks, visit z.umn.edu/ticks information provided by Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist.

 

Contacts

Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
adam0062@umn.edu
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