Avoiding Tick Bites
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks.
- Wear light-colored clothing, which allows you to see ticks crawling on your clothing.
- Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pant legs.
- To avoid ticks when walking in wooded or grassy areas; avoid tall grass, avoid areas frequented by deer and walk in the center of trails.
- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors in a potentially tick-infested area, search your entire body for ticks especially places ticks hide: Under your arms, in and around your ears, inside your belly button, back of your knees, under your arms, in your hair and around your waist. Some ticks can crawl into shoes and are small enough to crawl through your socks. Examine your feet and ankles to ensure that ticks are not there.
- Use a mirror to view all parts of your body.
- Check your children for ticks.
- Check your pets for ticks. Use a tick collar on dogs & cats.
- Apply insect repellant with DEET
Insect Repellent Safety Precautions
- Adults can use insect repellants with less than 30% DEET.
- Children over 3 years old can use products containing 15% DEET or less.
- Children under 3 years old should not use DEET.
- Read the entire label before using. Never use a product that has not been approved by the EPA.
- Apply repellent sparingly on exposed skin. Apply on clothing. Do not apply under clothing.
- Do not spray directly onto your face; spray on your hands first and then apply to your face. Do not inhale, ingest or get repellant into your eyes.
- Do not allow children to handle insect repellants. Do not apply to children’s hands. Apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
- Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear where it can remain protective through several washings.
Controlling Ticks at Home
Here are some suggestions for having a tick-free landscape.
Note: Ticks thrive in humid, wooded areas and avoid dry areas.
- Remove leaf litter and tall grass from around your home.
- Place gravel between lawn and wooded areas to prevent tick migration into your yard.
- Keep the ground under your bird feeders clean.
- Keep playground equipment away from the yard edges.
- Stack wood neatly and in dry areas.
- Discourage deer from entering your yard. They carry ticks.
- Control mice population. They are hosts to ticks as well.
- Chickens & Guinea hens eat many insects; including ticks.
- Have a certified pesticide applicator apply a pyrethrin-based pesticide in May or early June.
Diseases carried by Ticks
Some species and some life stages of ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see.
The best way to remove an attached tick is to grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers and pull it straight away from the skin.
Q & A on Lyme Disease
- What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
- Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrellia burgdorferi. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include flu-like symptoms such as: fever, headache, fatigue; as well as, a "bulls eye" rash around the tick bite.
- I have a tick bite. Will I get Lyme Disease?
- If a tick that is infected with Lyme Disease is removed within 24 hours it is unlikely the disease was transmitted to you. The longer a tick feeds the more likely it will transmit the bacteria to you. Remove ticks promptly.
- Should a doctor check me for Lyme Disease?
- If you have symptoms and/or a “bulls eye” rash you should seek medical attention. The blood test may result in a false negative for Lyme Disease in the first few weeks after infection. It may take several weeks before the test detects Lyme Disease.
- What is the treatment for Lyme Disease?
- Most cases of Lyme Disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. If left untreated the disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system and become very hard to eradicate.
- What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is caused by a bacterium (rickettsiae). Symptoms of RMSF are similar to Lyme Disease except the rash appears on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands and spreads to the rest of the body. Prompt treatment by your doctor is important. RMSF is a rare, but serious illness. Early and effective antibiotic treatment by your doctor can be lifesaving.
For More Information
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides advice on controlling ticks on pets.
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides health awareness information.
- Suffolk County Department of Health Services provides information on insect-borne diseases.