It doesn’t matter if it’s the spring, summer, or fall; when the weather permits and outside temps are reasonable, many of us venture outdoors to relax and have some fun. Whether parents, kids, and the family dog go for a hike, head to the beach, or simply roughhouse and relax in the backyard, it’s essential to be on the lookout for ticks.
These tiny, blood-sucking pests can have an outsized impact on the health and well-being of the entire family. Don’t wait for someone to get bit and possibly be infected with a common tick disease. Prevention is key. It’s time to prepare for tick season.
What You Need To Know About Ticks
There’s a lot to learn about ticks; they can be weirdly, even disgustingly fascinating. For instance, did you know that ticks aren’t insects? Ticks have eight legs and are classified as parasitic arachnids. Adult ticks range in size from that of a poppy seed to an apple seed, and they feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. When engorged with blood, these tiny biters swell from the size of a small seed up to the size of a blueberry!
Because ticks are so small, you are unlikely to feel their bite. But once a tick finds someone to bite, it grasps the skin, cuts a hole in it, inserts its barbed feeding tube, and begins to suck blood. The barbs hold the tick in place while the host moves about. An adult female tick can remain attached to its host, feeding on its blood for seven to ten days, after which it will detach and fall off. After the first 36-48 hours of feeding, a Lyme disease-carrying tick is most likely to transmit the disease bacterium to its host.
Immature ticks, called nymphs, are the most frequent cause of Lyme disease in humans. Measuring just 2 millimeters across, nymphs are very difficult to see. Nymphs are most active feeding during spring and summer, which is often considered tick season.
Ticks generally make their homes in wooded areas with overgrown shrubs, tall grasses, fallen branches, and plenty of leaf litter. They typically rest at the tips of grass and shrubs, waiting to grab onto a passing animal to feed. But ticks are not only found in woods. They are plentiful in the coastal brush and grasses around the beach and can make their home in your backyard. In fact, most humans are bitten by ticks in their own gardens.
When is Tick Season?
Depending on your climate, tick season, or the time when adult ticks are most active, is from early March to mid-May and mid-August to November. However, for the following thirteen states, tick season is year-round:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
When Does Tick Season End?
Tick season typically ends when temperatures drop below freezing. However, to kill off ticks, the weather must be below 10 degrees Fahrenheit for a sustained number of days. As winters get warmer, tick seasons will last longer, and more people and pets risk getting bitten.
Risks and Symptoms of Tick Bites
Most tick bites are painless, with just a few mild symptoms like redness, swelling, or soreness at the bite. However, some ticks carry and transmit disease-causing bacteria and can lead to Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, and Tularemia, among others. And even those ticks that don’t transmit disease can have their head or jaws detach from the tick’s body and remain in the host they bite, causing infection. This is why it is critical to learn to remove ticks safely. Of course, because feeding ticks suck blood, bites can lead to anemia.
Unlike most biting insects, ticks bite once and hang on rather than biting in clusters. The more they feed, the larger and more noticeable they become. Harmless tick bites often cause no symptoms or visible signs. Some cause a red bump that looks like a mosquito bite. People who are allergic to tick bites may experience:
- Painful swelling at the bite
- A rash
- A burning sensation
- Shortness of breath in extreme cases
However, not all tick bites are so relatively harmless. Symptoms of tick-borne diseases include:
- Rash at the bite site*
- Full body rash
- Stiff neck
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Swollen lynch nodes
- A fever spoke around 102 or 103°F
- Abdominal pain
*A Lyme disease rash looks like a bullseye, with a red bump at the center, surrounded by a ring of paler flesh, surrounded by a reddened ring. If you, a family member, or a pet is showing any of these symptoms following a tick bite, seek prompt medical attention.
Preventative Routine to Best Prepare for Tick Season
Although ticks are found in some of our favorite getaway spots, like the woods, mountains, and beaches, most people get bitten by ticks in their own backyard. Ticks hide and breed in unkempt or overgrown vegetation. So, let’s see how to prepare for tick season:
- Keep your grass well-mown
- Keep your trees trimmed
- Keep up with the weeding
- Remove leaf litter
- Move swing sets and sandboxes away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation
- Discourage deer and other wildlife
- Keep fences and other barriers to wildlife in good repair
- Layer gravel or cedar wood chips between the lawn or garden and any wooded areas
- Don’t over water; ticks are attracted to moisture
- Have professional tick control service spray every month
- Apply a monthly topical flea and tick medication
- Keep bird feeders and bird baths away from pet areas
- Carefully inspect your pet’s body each night
- Give regular baths
- Launder pet bedding and toys
You and your family:
- Avoid tall grass and wooded areas, hiking only in the middle of trails
- Wear lightweight clothing to make it easier to spot ticks on it
- Wear clothing that completely covers you, tucking pant legs into socks when hiking
- Treat boots, hiking wear, and camping gear with permethrin
- Tie back long hair or wear a hat
- Shower after returning indoors, and carefully inspect your body for ticks, paying particular attention to:
- Under arms
- Behind ears
- Behind knees
- Inside elbow joints
- Under hair and on the scalp
- Inside the belly button
- Around the waist
- Groin area
When examining yourself, your kids, and your pets, check the same areas, plus the ears, mouth, and between the toes for your pet. If you find one attached, remove the tick safely, and save it for testing should symptoms develop.
Keeping Your Family Safe During Tick Season
While the ways to prepare for tick season may seem burdensome, they are nothing compared to suffering with a tick-borne disease. According to insurance records, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that “approximately 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease every year.”
This accounts only for humans who sought medical care contracting just one of the diseases ticks carry. Don’t let one of your family members, furry or not, become a statistic. Make tick season precautions a regular part of your family’s health care.
Mosquito Joe for Reliable Tick Control Services Near You
Tick season preparations may seem like a heavy lift, but Mosquito Joe is here to help! Not only do we provide effective mosquito control and flea control, but we can also help you rid your property of ticks. Our barrier spray applications target tall grasses, shrubs, plants, and trees where mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks hide and breed. Our professional technicians will tailor our services to meet your property’s specific needs.
As a Neighborly company, we make it our business to become the local experts on the pest issues in neighborhoods across the country. And you can trust that we do our work promptly and efficiently because every visit is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™ and the Mosquito Joe® Satisfaction Guarantee!
Don’t Wait for Tick Season – Contact Us Today!
This tick season, protect your family and secure your property for bite-free fun with Mosquito Joe! Call us today at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online for a free quote or to schedule professional tick control services. Because you and your family deserve to enjoy summer!