Ticks favor moist and humid environments, but, like many pests, they adapt to their surrounds and thrive. Ticks prefer to stay close to where they eat and receive shelter; the host. Hosts often include dogs, cats, rodents, birds, deer and even humans. So now you may be wondering how serious are ticks when it comes to the dangers that they pose?
Ticks typically live outdoors, in wooded or grassy areas, where they attach to their host and begin to feed. After taking in a blood meal, the tick detaches itself from its host. It then goes on to either find a suitable spot to molt, or another host.
Ticks don’t pose much of a threat in your home unless they’ve hitched a ride on a host, most likely your pet, and have wondered away from their main food source in search of an appetizer. Even though your pet is the most likely host, a tick will eventually seek new surroundings and attach itself to humans if given the opportunity.
How do I get ticks?
It is most likely to come across ticks while outdoors. Ticks like wooded or brushy areas near your home and thrive outdoors when the weather is warm. A simple walk on a park trail, or through a meadow, climbing a tree, or even cleaning up the yard debris can give ticks access to your pet, your clothing, your skin, your hair, etc.
All it takes is to brush up against some tall grass or a tree branch, and the tick grabs onto you. Once it’s on your clothes, the tick will start making its way toward uncovered skin. Because ticks prefer warm, moist places on the host, you will most likely find them in your armpit or groin areas, also in your ear, hair, belly button, and behind the knee.
Common tick hangouts:
- Outside in the yard … they live the grass, trees, shrubs, and leaf piles.
- On the playground
- In a treehouse
- On a hike
- Dog parks and trails
- Yard debris, leaf piles
What types of ticks live in Virginia?
It is estimated that there are over 800 species of ticks worldwide, 90 of which can be found in North America. The most common tick variety found in Virginia are:
- American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
- Eastern deer or blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis)
- Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum)
What kind of diseases do ticks carry?
Different species of ticks can transmit over 15 types of viruses and infections. The most common diseases found in north America are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.
One of the more common tick-borne ailments is Lyme disease. If left untreated, Lyme disease can affect the heart and nervous system, so early detection and medical intervention are crucial. Symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Skin rash
DIY tips for protecting yourself from ticks
If you live or spend time in an area where ticks are common, you should check yourself and your children before returning indoors. You can also wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pants into your socks while hiking on trails or in wooded areas. Try to use insect repellant that works on ticks. You may also buy certain types of clothing that contain insect repellant in the fabric.
Additional prevention tips:
- Minimize direct contact with ticks by avoiding wooded areas and trails
- Do a tick check if you know you’ll be outside. Check your clothes on the outside AND inside when ever you get the chance. Don’t wait until the next day to do it.
- Tick check your pet(s).
- Tick check your gear, especially if you are camping. Ticks will attach themselves to tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and clothing.
Sigma’s Mosquito & Tick Control Program (MTCP) protects you, your family and your pets from the deadliest living organisms on the planet.
A highly-trained Sigma pest control technician will create a barrier around your home that will keep ticks away. We work with you to develop and implement the most effective tick removal and prevention methods for your needs.