Ticks -- those nasty bloodsucking creepy crawly bugs are back, just when we're ready to enjoy the outdoors.
Tick season in the United States is usually from summer to fall, except where it stays above 40 degrees year-round. However, it’s a myth that ticks die off in the winter; they do stop seeking blood meals but they can survive quite nicely under the snow. Adult ticks especially are able to wait the winter out. Ticks thrive in warmer weather and are found worldwide.
Here are a few tick quick-facts:
- Ticks are classified as Arachnids - a.k.a. spiders (no wonder they're scary)
- Ticks are extremely efficient at transmitting disease because after they latch on, they feed slowly and may remain attached (and feeding) if unnoticed for several days - totally yuck!
- Both male and female ticks will feed on a host animal which can include any mammal and even birds, how gross is that!
- Ticks lurk on the tips of brush or weeds, just waiting for a host animal. When brushed by the moving animal, be it human or other, they will quickly let go of their perch and climb unto the host to feed (lunch time!)
- There at least 15 species of ticks in North America, but fortunately only a few are commonly encountered by people or animals
- Ticks are responsible for transmitting at least 5 different serious diseases including Lyme disease
- Usually ticks will avoid a well-manicured lawn; they much prefer to hang out in tall weeds and brush in woodsy areas
Your absolute best practice is to avoid getting bitten is by avoiding the places they're likely to lurk, like the woods or woody areas in parks and yards. However, this is not always possible. Even the most careful can become a victim. It's a great idea to make a practice of examining your pet (and yourself) upon returning from an outing in the woods or near any woodsy areas.
Remove and dispose of ticks as soon as you see them. They like to hide in warm dark areas on your pet. When you're trying to rid your dog or cat of ticks, know that they can hide in the ears, between the toes, under their collar or harness, or in any crease or crevice they can find.
The best tick remover tool has a pointed tweezer tip on one end, and a v-shaped slot the other. The easiest method is to use the v-shaped slot, which you press against the skin and slide right under the tick for easy removal.
THREE-STEP REMOVAL METHOD - according to WebMD:
1. Clean the area around the tick with rubbing alcohol.
2. Grab your removal tool using tweezers or slotted end, pressing down on the skin getting as close as possible to the tick’s head.
3. Pull up slow and firm. Don’t jerk or twist; a steady pressure straight up will do. Flush tick down the toilet, rinse and repeat because if you find one tick there is probably more.
Clean the bite area again, and your hands, with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Beware the small, but all but deadly tick.