25 Ticks bite

first_imgVolume XXIXNumber 1Page 25 By Nancy C. HinkleUniversity of GeorgiaAvoiding ticks outdoors is challenging. Around your home, though,you can maintain your lawn to be inhospitable to them. Hot,drying sunshine is deadly to ticks. Keeping your lawn closelymowed will reduce their numbers.Spraying the yard with an insecticide often makes the problemworse. Insecticides kill predatory insects that help keep ticknumbers down.If you want to apply an pesticide to your pet, check the productlabel to make sure it kills ticks. Compounds registered for fleasaren’t always effective against ticks.Ticks are found mainly on low-growing plants along paths andtrails, waiting to snare a passing host by hooking their legsinto an animal’s leg hair or a human’s pants cuff.Haven for ticksAvoid tall grass and brushy or weedy areas as much as possible.Walk in the middle of trails to avoid brushing againstsurrounding vegetation. And don’t sit down on the ground.Protecting yourself from ticks includes wearing clothing thatlimits their access to your skin, applying appropriate repellentsand performing daily tick checks.Wear long pants where ticks are around and tuck your cuffs intosocks to keep them from crawling under the pant leg. For the bestprotection, tape the top of your socks over your pant legs, thentwist the tape and make one wrap with the sticky side out to trapticks. It’s easier to spot ticks on light-colored clothes.Be carefulYou can apply products containing DEET to your skin. (But followlabel instructions. Pay particular attention to cautions forchildren.)Apply products such as Permanone, which contain permethrin, toclothes but not to skin. Spray these products on your clothes andallow them to dry overnight before you put them on. Permethrinwill kill both ticks and mosquitoes that land on treated clothing.A tick takes a day or two to secrete a feeding tube before it canbegin to suck blood. So daily tick checks can keep them fromfeeding and transmitting diseases. Look and feel for tickscarefully, especially in hair-covered places.Examine FidoCheck your pets after they’ve been outside, too. Destroying ticksbefore they can feed not only protects pets from diseases butreduces tick reproduction.To remove a tick, use tweezers, grasping the tick as close to theskin as you can. Pull slowly and firmly, without twisting orcrushing the tick.A tick is like a balloon attached to a hypodermic needle.Squeezing its body forces material through its mouthparts intoyour bloodstream, increasing the risk of infection.It’s a good idea to keep the tick in a plastic bag in therefrigerator for a few weeks. If the person bitten later developssymptoms of a tick-transmitted disease, it can be tested todetermine the causative agent.VigilanceBe especially watchful for the first two weeks after a tick bite.If flu-like symptoms, headache, fever, lack of balance, skinrashes, muscle or joint pain or nausea develop, see a doctor.The most common tick in Georgia is the lone star tick (the femalehas a white dot on the middle of her back). American dog ticksare common and can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever andtularemia. Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, carry Lyme disease.Of the dozens of tick species in Georgia, the brown dog tick isthe most troublesome household pest. It doesn’t attack humans.But it does transmit some canine diseases.The six-legged seed tick attaches to a dog and becomesbluish-gray, engorged with blood. It molts and becomes a larger,eight-legged, reddish-brown nymph. After engorging with bloodagain the nymph, now dark gray, molts and becomes a reddish-brownadult.When it engorges yet again on the dog’s blood, it’s bluish andabout a third of an inch long. The adult female lays 1,000 to3,000 eggs.(Nancy Hinkle is an Extension Service entomologist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.)last_img

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