How to Prepare for Tick Season

How to Prepare for Tick Season

Ticks are still a threat in North Central MA right up to the first frost.

A young woman with her golden retriever in the woodsWhether you’re enjoying your backyard, hiking Mount Wachusett, or walking your dog at Leominster State Forest — there’s nothing better than spending time outside in North Central Massachusetts during the beautiful fall months.

However, it’s important to remember that ticks are a threat to you and your four-legged walking buddies from early spring through the first frost (which could mean November). And it’s been a particularly bad tick season this year. This Week In Worcester reported that Worcester County has the second-most tick-borne disease cases in Massachusetts. To keep you, your family, and your furry friends safe this year, your neighbors at Anderson, Bagley & Mayo Insurance (ABM) compiled the following tips and insights right up to the end of tick season.

How to prepare yourself or your pet to be outdoors during tick season:

Where do ticks live?

Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas — and sometimes, even on animals, like birds, deer, and rodents. If you plan to spend time outside camping, gardening, or exercising, you could increase your risk of coming in contact with these pesky arachnids.

Is there something I can use to treat my clothing and gear?

Be sure to make use of tick repellent, especially if you’ll be spending long periods outside. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear and will remain protective through several washings. However, please keep in mind these repellents are not kid-safe and should only be used on children over four-years-old.

How do I prepare my pets?

Cats and dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases, and there are no vaccines currently available for most of the illnesses that pets can contract. For these reasons, it’s important to use tick preventive products on your pets and to check them thoroughly after walking in the woods or playing in the yard so that they don’t bring ticks into your home. If you’re wondering what the best products are, we recommend you speak with your vet or check out the “Flea and Tick Survival Guide” on PetMD for recommendations.

How to reduce the risk of ticks in your yard:

  • Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes regularly.
  • Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas.
  • Keep play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
  • Consider using a chemical agent. Tick control chemicals are effective for a homeowner to use, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert.
  • Discourage deer. Remove plants that attract deer and construct physical barriers to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing black-legged ticks with them.

How to check for ticks:

Even if you use a repellent, it is important that you check your clothes for ticks after being outdoors. Ticks often attach to clothing. If you find a tick on your clothes, remove it immediately and drop it in rubbing alcohol, then put your clothes in the wash or the dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill off any other intruders you may have missed. When washing clothes, use hot water; cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.

After checking your clothes, take a shower and have someone else check places that you cannot see, like your back, the back of your neck, your hair, etc. Ticks generally go for warmer places on the body, such as your hair and armpits.

Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases.

How to treat a tick bite:

If you find a tick on you or your pet, don’t panic. Here’s what to do:

  • Use a pair of tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure.
  • You should not apply kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or a hot match tip to remove the tick. These measures are not effective and may result in injury.
  • Take note of the day you removed the tick and where on the body the tick was removed from.
  • You may want to save the tick for identification. You can save the tick in rubbing alcohol inside of a Ziploc bag.
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles.
  • Talk to your pet’s veterinarian if your pet is experiencing symptoms like fever, loss of appetite, reduced energy, lameness, swelling of joints, or general stiffness, discomfort, or pain.

Here at ABM, we love enjoying the beautiful outdoors that Leominster, Gardner, Westminster, Princeton, and surrounding areas have to offer, and we know many of our clients do too — which is why we took the time to put together this blog. We want our clients to be able to enjoy the outdoors while also being informed of the measures they can take to safeguard themselves against hazards, like ticks.

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