When it comes to protecting yourself from ticks, you need to know as much as possible about them. Only knowing things like how do ticks look like, the signs of their presence, where they like to camp out, and what to do if one attaches itself to you, you will be able to successfully protect yourself from these creatures.
First of all, ticks are actually arachnids – not insects. This means they bear a closer relation to spiders than mosquitoes or flies. They even look similar to spiders, with four sets of legs, zero antennae – and they don’t jump or fly either. Rather, to feed ticks will latch onto a prospective (animal or human) host that comes into the vicinity of their nest. From there, they scout about for a bear batch of skin that they can easily penetrate in order to extract the blood within.
And unlike mosquitoes, when a tick bites you it will probably hang around feeding for a few days – not minutes. Because these creatures are so small, you probably won’t even notice their presence. They don’t immediately start spreading whatever disease they happen to be carrying, either. For example, it takes at least 36 to 48 hours before the bacteria that spread Lyme disease are able to infect you. Which means that if you are able to remove a tick within the first 24 hours, you will be immune to this plus most other diseases that ticks carry. The symptoms of tick-borne diseases don’t start showing up until after a few days either.
Ticks set up their nests in areas containing dense foliage and vegetation. It is usually by attaching themselves to your animals that they migrate to human habitations – once inside your home ticks will set up camp just about anywhere, including your bedding, the furniture, and soft fittings. And because they are hard to detect and breed quickly, before you know it you could have a full-blown tick infestation on your hands.
How to treat ticks?
When it comes to removing individual ticks, avoid yanking the creature away from you or your pets’ skin – or squeezing it with your fingers. Both of these methods will cause the tick to inject it’s (pathogen-containing) bodily fluids into your bloodstream.
When it comes to large-scale tick infestations, prevention is usually better and cheaper than the cure.
This means regularly cutting back any dense foliage that borders your property, and where your pets like to roam – this is where ticks choose their nesting places. It also means avoiding these places as best as possible when out in the great outdoors, particularly during summer, which is peak tick season – and when that can’t be done, wearing good, thick clothing – preferably treated with insecticide – and having as few areas of exposed skin as possible. When you are out hiking, fishing, camping, another good tip is to do frequent tick checks, examining your skin for the presence of ticks every two or three hours, say.
When it comes to protecting your pets from the predations of ticks and fleas, there are numerous good options out there for both preventing and eliminating the creatures, including medications, topical treatments like Spot On and Frontline, shampoos, collars, and flea powders. Washing and grooming your pets on a regular basis is another fine way of preventing ticks from gaining a foothold.
About tick repellants
Tick repellants are devices, usually in the form of an aerosol spray (although you can also get repellant lotions, gels, roll-ons, etc.), which contain a chemical that – you guessed it – either repels or kills outright those ticks that come into contact with it, including the eggs and larvae. DEET is the most common active ingredient in tick repellants – though recently, because of concerns about it’s environmental friendliness and toxicity to humans, other alternatives have been appearing on the market. For example, pyrethrins-based tick repellants make use of a chemical which is industrially produced but acts similarly to a naturally occurring extract from the chrysanthemum flower. Other tick repellants now appearing on the market make use of all-natural, eco-friendly ingredients like citronella and rosemary essential oil extract.