Spring is finally here. The temperatures are rising and the flowers are beginning to bloom. Along with all the things we look forward to about spring, it also ushers in tick season – and with it, the risk of contracting Lyme disease. According to researchers at Rutgers University, the mild winter of 2018/2019 followed up by an excessive rainy season will significantly increase the tick population, including those capable of transmitting the disease.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent warm winters have allowed more ticks and their animal hosts to survive the colder months and spread out to regions that have not typically hosted the arachnid. From December to February, the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic States experienced higher than normal temperatures and above average precipitation.
Ticks and Lyme Disease
There are two types of ticks that transmit Lyme disease – the blacklegged tick, also known as the deer tick or Ixodes scapularis and western blacklegged tick also known as Ixodes pacificus. The blacklegged tick is responsible for spreading Lyme disease in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-central United States, while the western blacklegged tick spreads the disease throughout the Pacific Coast.
Lyme Disease is an infectious disease and early symptoms include fever, headaches, and fatigue. Many people who become infected experience a rash as well. If these symptoms go untreated, your joints and heart can be affected. In some cases, it can even affect your nervous system. The disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics in its early stages. Delayed treatment can result in disabling effects which can be difficult to treat.
Ticks are around all year long but they are less active during the winter months. Adult ticks become active in late winter into the spring, This year’s warmer weather caused them to appear even earlier. While you can be bitten by a tick during the cooler months, May through July is considered to be tick season. The potential for being bitten by a tick and contracting Lyme disease is more common during this time. Immature ticks known as nymphs are most active and pose a stronger threat of spreading the disease.
How Ticks Bite
The blacklegged tick can’t jump or fly. In order to attach to a host, they lay in the grass with their front legs outstretched, waiting for a host to pass close enough for them to grab on. Once it has attached itself to the host, a tick will crawl to a spot to feed. Ticks often choose places on the body where they are less visible, such as the armpit, scalp and groin area. Once they’ve reached their chosen destination, they will bite and begin to feed.
The life span of tick is generally two to three years and it consists of four stages. They must feed on a new host during each stage in order to survive and they can feed for several days. The host can not contract Lyme disease by simply being bitten. It takes time for the Lyme bacteria to be transmitted. While it is not known exactly how long, it is a common belief that if the tick is removed within 24 hours, the possibility of infection is minimal. Most of the time humans are infected by nymphs, as they are much smaller than the adult and harder to detect.
Surviving Tick Season
So what should you do to get through tick season disease-free? There are some simple precautions you can take to avoid getting bitten and possibly contracting Lyme disease during tick season.
- Keep your lawn cut short
- Use an EPA-Registered insect repellent on your skin, clothing, and shoes
- Wear light-colored clothing to make it easy to see any ticks
- Tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from reaching your skin
- Do a body check when undressing or showering after being outdoors
- If you discover a tick, remove it immediately. The best method is to use fine point tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the mouth as possible, and pull it out.
The best way to survive tick season is to call the professionals. DIY tick control can be ineffective and dangerous if not handled properly. Store-bought chemicals lack the residual effects of industrial grade pesticides used by the professionals. Amco certified exterminators are here to make sure your home is a safe space for your family and pets during tick season and beyond. We offer a variety of different service plans to meet your needs. Contact us and schedule an onsite consultation today!