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Preventing Trouble with Ticks

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With the weather continuing to get warmer, many of us are choosing to spend more of our free time outside enjoying the warm sunshine, the gentle winds, and the beauty of the natural vegetation. And while most of this outdoor exposure brings significant health benefits, there are some types of outdoor exposure that could be a ticking time bomb of substantial harm to the quantity and quality of life that we live. The time bomb that I am referring to in particular is no other than the lurking Arachnids, commonly referred to as Ticks.

Ticks are external parasites typically measuring 3 to 5 mm long which survive on the blood of animals, including mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. They have been feeding on the blood of other animals since the Cretaceous period, approximately 146 to 66 million years ago, but truly started to evolve and disperse in the Tertiary period, between 65 and 5 million years ago. According to the Purdue Extension of Entomology, there are now “an estimated 899 species of ticks in the world, of which over 90 occur in the continental U.S.”

Ticks tend to give people a bad case of the heebie-jeebies in the best case scenario, or a variety of different diseases and infections including, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Tularemia, and the Powassan virus (which have the potential to turn fatal) in the worst case scenario. 

In recent years, ticks have become second to only mosquitoes as vectors of human disease, which stems from a multitude of reasons, including changing environmental factors such as the extension of warm-humid climates, the decrease of harsh winters, and the increase of rodent population. Recently, the CDC reported that vector-borne diseases — illnesses caused within a human population by pathogens and parasites such as ticks — have tripled to roughly 650,000 cases between 2004 and 2016 with ticks causing approximately 75% of cases.

Most of these cases are brought on by the exposure to ticks in tall grasses, where they tend to rest themselves at the tip of a blade so they can then attach themselves to an animal passing by. It is a common misconception that the tick can jump from a plant onto its host, which is not true; the only method of transportation for ticks is dependent on direct physical contact.

That’s all pretty daunting, so how can you protect yourself from ticks that are just waiting for you to pass by and become their next delicious snack? According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the best efforts to protect yourself, your family, and your property include:
• using an EPA-registered insect repellent
• wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outside
• treating specific clothing, footwear, and equipment with permethrin
• taking the appropriate steps to control ticks on pets
• and removing ticks from family and pets in a timely manner.

It’s important to remember that illnesses brought on by ticks are entirely preventable and by taking the proper measures to protect yourself, your family, and your property you can mitigate the potential health threats that ticks can cause.

So, make sure you remember to book your Donegan’s Tree Service routine care appointment! With the best insect repellent and a new idea of how to protect yourself and your family, there is no easier way to be protected, prepared, and able to enjoy your beautifully maintained property.

Crys Bauer, B.S. in Sustainable Resource Management & Donegan’s Tree Service team writer

Jim Donegan