NOTE: Readers beware. This article is about ticks. Ticks are gross and the information about them in this article is equally so.
We’ve officially been warned that due to our strange winter weather, the six and eight-legged creepy crawlies survived and will be plentiful this summer. This may be exciting for your young aspiring entomologists; however many of us are not thrilled by this information.
One of the creepiest crawly, in my humble opinion, is the tick. Not only do they fall on you, uninvited, but they also like to latch on and suck your blood. These little nasties also tend to carry diseases that can have long lasting and devastating effects.
The Best Defense
Obviously, the best way to avoid being sucked dry by these little creatures is to take steps to protect yourself from them.
Around the house, the Washington State Department of Health recommends that you focus on the lived in areas of your outdoor space. Ticks prefer the environment of the woods; keeping the area around your home open and sunny will encourage the bugs to stay away. Make sure that play and picnic spaces are away from the edge of wooded or bushy areas. Use wood chips as ground cover in these places as well.
Ticks love to ride on animals as much as they like people. When possible, keep your pets out of the woods. This is not always feasible, so check your animals thoroughly to make sure they’re not carrying any hitchhikers. Also, take pest control to the next level, as stray and wild animals are often carriers of ticks, and will bring them into your yard if they are allowed.
In wooded, brushy, or grassy places, take these precautions to reduce your chance of being bitten. Hunters and their dogs are more at risk because the amount of time spent in more tick friendly environments.
Tight weave fabrics, long pants, and sleeves with pant legs and shirts tucked in when possible will prevent the bugs from making contact with your skin. Wear light colors to make the crawlers easy to see. Tick repellent is also helpful.
Once you come inside from whatever adventure you’ve been enjoying in the great outdoors, be sure to check yourself, your kids, and your animals for ticks. The bugs may look like a freckle or dirt.
Tick Borne Illnesses
The Washington State Department of Health lists several illnesses that ticks in Washington State are known to carry. The frequency of each disease actually transmitted by the insects varies.
- Lyme Disease
- Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Tick Paralysis
Send In Your Ticks
The Washington State Department of Health wants your ticks. So, if you’re lucky enough to find one of the little critters on yourself, family, or pets, they want you to send it to them.
Remove a tick promptly and properly
- Grasp the tick close to the skin with tweezers.
- Gently pull straight up to remove the tick.
- Disinfect the bite site.
TICK MUST BE DEAD BEFORE SHIPPING
- Place the tick into a small plastic or metal container (an empty pill bottle is ideal). Close tightly and freeze the tick for at least 24 hours to kill it.
- Put the container holding the tick into a sealed plastic bag.
- Place the bag into a padded envelope for mailing. Do not use a standard business envelope.
- Complete the form and mail it with your tick. DPGazette.com/dohtickform
“Different ticks live in different parts of the state and transmit different diseases. Help us identify the species of ticks and determine the risk for tick-borne disease in your region. Any tick you find on yourself or pets, safely remove and place it in a container with a few blades of grass. Fill out the Tick Identification Submission Form (PDF) and follow the shipping instructions. You will be notified of what tick species it is.”
This and more information on ticks can be found on this site.