5 Tips to control ticks this summer, according to the experts

Summertime is the peak season for many bugs and while mosquitos can be irritating, other insects carry even more risks. Ticks, for instance, carry pathogens like Lyme disease that are harmful to humans. Plus, they’re so small that you might not even notice that you’ve been harboring a tick.

Don’t be misled by the common misconception that you will definitely feel it if a tick bites you. David Price, associate certified entomologist for Neighborly brand Mosquito Joe says that “ticks secrete an anesthetic compound that makes the animals they bite unaware they are being bitten—or fed on.”

How can you control ticks? Here’s some advice from the experts.

Use an insect repellant

It’s recommended that you use a repellent that contains active ingredients DEET or picaridin. SC Johnson’s entomologist Dr. Mascari says, “the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommends using an insect repellent that contains 20 percent or more of DEET on exposed skin and/or clothing for protection.” As usual, be sure to read and follow the directions carefully. Unfortunately, DEET can have negative health implications, so when possible, use these other methods to avoid exposure.

Wear proper clothing

Firstly, you must be aware of the places where ticks are commonly found. This includes wooded areas, woodpiles, and tall grass and weeds. If you know that you’ll be frolicking in fields or exploring woodland areas, then “one of the simplest things you can do, in addition to using a personal insect repellent, is making sure you wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, tucking your pants into your socks to avoid any skin showing,” says Dr. Mascari. He also recommends staying on the path if there is one, which will help you avoid contact with ticks and is also a great way to protect the environment.

Keep up with yard maintenance

Though it’s best for pollinators and biodiversity to let your lawns go wild or to mow them less frequently, if there is a section of your yard that you use for recreational purposes, then make sure that section is well maintained. This will give ticks less to hold on to while they wait for a host to walk by. Though many believe ticks can jump onto a host, this is simply untrue. “Instead, they wait patiently crawling or latched to tall grass or brush sensing carbon dioxide and heat signatures to latch on to their host.”

Create a barrier between you and ticks

If you live near a wooded area and want to prevent ticks from migrating into your yard, then put a three-foot band of mulch or gravel as a border between your lawn and any kind of wooded area. “Use products that offer a blend of essential oils particularly containing geraniol and/or Virginian cedarwood oil targeting ticks at the wood line.”

Beware of animals that carry ticks

“Field mice and small rodents are a tick’s first host and typically carry borrelia burgdorferi¸which is the pathogen that carried Lyme disease,” Dr. Mascari explains. Deer, opossums, raccoons, and foxes are also commonly hosting ticks, so be sure to discourage animals from entering the premises. If you have any pets, make sure they’re also treated for ticks.

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