Ticks are on the attack. These little suckers (literally) are most active during the warmer months of the year such as April to September. Of the many different varieties of ticks, only certain ones bite human and spread disease. You can see these kinds of tocks and their common geographic locations here.
Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. According to the CDC, here is how ticks transmit disease:
Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.
- Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.
- The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
- Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
- A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
- Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.
- After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.
So what can you do? There are some precautions you can take to lessen your chance to tick bites.
- Avoid direct contact with them in areas with tall grass, trails with hanging vegetation, or leaves.
- Use repellent with 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, permethrin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
- Bathe, wash, and do a full body check (that should be fun on the trail). Remove the suckers properly!
- Check your gear and pets.
- Wash your clothes in hot water and dry your article on high heat to kill missed ticks.
- Ticks don’t jump or fly…they crawl. Tuck your pants into your socks and wear long sleeves.
- Wear clothing that is treated to repel ticks. Also, light colored clothing helps you see ticks easier.
Now that you’ve read this blog post, you’re itching all over aren’t you?
Now, get off your dang computer and go outside…and when you come back in take a shower and check your business!