Serving South Placer County, Sacramento County and the Surrounding Areas
Ticks are the stuff of nightmares: these parasitic little arachnids can cling to their host for days, gorging themselves with blood, and growing up to 600 times their original size.
Ticks need to feed on a host, requiring a blood meal to grow or reproduce. Different species of ticks specialize in a certain type of host, and have evolved specialized body parts or have adapted strategies to maximize their chances of finding one.
What Makes Ticks So Dangerous?
Quite possibly the main reason why ticks must be avoided is the fact that they carry a number of diseases and can transmit them to humans.
Of the 48 different kinds of ticks in California, six are known to commonly bite humans. These bites can carry germs that can be passed on to a person while the tick has latched on and has begun to feed. Diseases commonly associated with ticks include:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever
- Tick ParalysisTularemia
Lyme disease, in particular, is rather serious, and while it’s mostly localized, it can potentially affect multiple body systems if left unattended. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by certain species of ticks.
Probably deadlier are Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). Meanwhile, Anaplasmosis and Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF, caused by the bacteria Borrelia miyamotoi) can leave you with a fever, chills and a headache. Avoiding tick bites is the best way to avoid getting these diseases.
Ticks also bother your pets and cause diseases in them as well. So as a responsible pet owner, you’ll want to keep fleas and ticks from pestering your animal companions and moving into your home.
All it takes is for one tick to come into your home for an infestation to occur. Once the tick is able to find a suitable host, it can then feed (to its heart’s content!) then reproduce and give birth to hundreds of other ticks.
Usually, you’d get a tick from wooded or brushy areas near your home, or when you might have been hiking outdoors (especially during warmer weather). The tick can leap onto your clothes, attach somewhere on your body and bury its head into your skin.
Especially when coming home, you may want to check your body for ticks:
- your groin
- under your arms
- inside your ears
- hidden in your hair
- inside your belly button
- behind your knee
- within your pet’s fur, between their toes, or in their ears
Once they’ve had their fill of blood, they’d unlatch and find a place to lay their eggs. Typically, they’d favor areas near baseboards, within the folds of furniture or curtains, or around the edges of rugs.
So take the time to check yourself for ticks, even if you’ve just taken a quick walk out in your own yard. Use a hand-held mirror to check otherwise hard-to-see areas. Don’t forget to similarly check your child and your pet as well.
If you have found a tick, attached to your skin, you can remove it using a fine-tipped pair of tweezers. As long as you’ve removed the tick within 24 hours of attaching itself to you, your chance of catching Lyme disease is quite small. Other diseases may be transmitted more quickly, however, so quickly get rid of them if and when you find one.
In addition to thoroughly checking yourself, your child and your pet after walking in areas where ticks might be found, here are a few other tips to prevent having a sudden and unexpected infestation of ticks at home:
Good landscape management. Especially in rural or semi-rural areas, take the effort to make the environment a lot less hospitable to ticks. Keep your grass mowed, trim your shrubs back, clear away leaf litter, and create woodchip barriers between lawns and adjacent woodlands– these simple maintenance measures can greatly help.
Treating clothes with permethrin. Especially when you go camping or hiking, the CDC recommends treating your clothes, shoes and gear with permethrin or a suitable bug repellent that’s registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, avoid spending too much time in wooded or bushy areas with high grass and leaves.
Discourage wildlife from hanging out. Remember, wildlife like birds and various varmint can come into your yard and bring fleas and ticks with them. The worst offenders are opossums, raccoons, and feral cats. So secure crawl spaces, openings, where they might nest.
Use flea and tick treatments on your pets. Ticks particularly love long-haired pets. Especially in the summer, consider shaving your pet down for the season and use tick medication as necessary.
Vacuum your home thoroughly, especially rugs and carpets, paying particular attention to edges and folds, as well as areas not usually frequented by people and pets– ticks would love to hide there. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately and shampoo or steam clean the carpet for the best results.
Use diatomaceous earth (DE). You can sprinkle DE under furniture cushions, along baseboards, in pet beds, and brushing it into the cracks in hardwood floors. An alternative to DE is IGR (or insect growth regulator). IGR is available as sprays, dips, spot-on products, and collars with methoprene or pyriproxyfen. It’s best to ask your veterinarian for the best options you can use around the house.
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