By Tom Smith, OSU Extension Services - Antlers
Well, warmer weather is here. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing… and the ticks are biting! It is all too true that when the weather becomes pleasant, we want to be outside. Regardless of whether you enjoy gardening, bird-watching, hiking, sports, working with livestock, or a multitude of other outdoor activities, spring and early summer are the times when ticks most frequently find a human blood donor.
Tick bites affect different people in various ways. For some, they only cause a small red spot and a slight itch which lasts for a few minutes, while other people have severe itching, large sores and severe allergic reactions. Rarely, humans become infected with one of a number of diseases carried by ticks. Among these diseases are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tularemia, human Ehrlichiosis, tick paralysis and the dreaded Lyme Disease. The good news is that only about 1% of ticks carry a disease, so don’t panic if you find one crawling or stuck to you. Remove by grasping as close to the skin as possible. Some sources recommend using tweezers or paper towels to protect the fingers, but use caution to prevent breaking off the head.
Keep yards mowed and keep areas around buildings, fence rows and shrubbery free of tall grass. To reduce the chance of contact with ticks in recreation areas, stay on prepared trail and avoid tall grass or overgrown bushy areas. Wear DEET (20 to 40%, or greater) or other tick repellent that contains the active ingredient N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide). Frequently check your children, pets and yourself for ticks. Upon returning home, shower and change clothes to eliminate unattached ticks. If your yard or premises become infested with ticks, treat with recommended insecticides. Contact your local Extension Educator for a list of insecticides to control ticks.
There are also options for those wishing to avoid use of toxic chemicals. Wrapping tape around cuffs of pants with the sticky side out helps limit the ability of the pests to climb up a person’s legs. Spraying the pants, legs and shoes with a mixture of dish soap, vinegar and water is claimed by some to repel ticks and chiggers as well, but I am not aware of any research to determine the effectiveness of this method. Wearing high socks with pant legs tucked into the socks helps keep ticks on the outside of clothing.
For more information on this or other topics, contact the Pushmataha County OSU Cooperative Extension Office at 306 SW B Street in Antlers, or call (580)298-5563.
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