Get TICK smart! Tick safety for April

By Samantha Murray

blacklegged ticks in adult stageamerican_dog_ticks-400lone_star_ticks-400
Even though blacklegged (deer) ticks can be active all winter, depending on temperatures and snow cover, late March and early April typically marks the beginning of a Spring adult stage tick resurgence — specifically, adult stage blacklegged (deer) ticks, American dog ticks, and Lone Star ticks (especially on Long Island). While adult stage ticks are larger and relatively easy to spot, it’s still important to keep these blood thirsty ticks from biting since 1 in 2 adult female black legged ticks carry Lyme disease bacteria. Studies have shown that about 20% of adult blacklegged tick females found biting were likely attached long enough to transmit an infection. Adult blacklegged ticks will be waiting to latch on (a behavior called “questing”) about knee-high on the tips of greenbriar and low growing shrubs. So, be aware when walking through this type of terrain. Adult female blacklegged ticks readily bite humans and pets.

American dog ticks are found predominantly in areas with little or no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrub land, as well as along walkways and trails. American dog ticks are mostly found questing in tall grass and low-lying brush and twigs.  Although called dog ticks, they readily bite humans, too, frequently crawling all the way to the top of your head. While these ticks don’t carry the Lyme disease bacteria, they do carry the germs causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia depending on your geographical location. Luckily, cases of these diseases are very rare in the Northeastern United States.

dry_clothes_firstTickSmart Tip: DRY CLOTHES FIRST – THEN WASH.
Most ticks are VERY sensitive to dryness. The very first action to take after coming home from work or when working out in the yard, is to strip clothing off and throw it in the dryer. Deer ticks are most susceptible, while American dog ticks, Lone Star ticks and other species are a bit harder to kill. To be sure that each species reaches a fatal crispiness, leave clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes.

In a TickEncounter Resource Center study, gas dryers ran hotter than electric dryers, so you might want to add 5 minutes if you own an electric dryer. Believe it or not, ticks were not killed by washing, even in hot water. Clothing just left in the hamper or on the floor may put the next person to touch the laundry at risk. Unless laundering clothes right away, dry first – then wash.

EARLY SPRING MEANS ADULT STAGE TICKS! TUCK IN SHIRTS! CHECK CAREFULLY ABOVE THE WAIST!

For more TickSmart information, visit www.tickencounter.org

TickSmart is a registered trademark of The University of Rhode Island

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