Ticks, those hard-shelled, teeny tiny little freckled-looking bloodsuckers are pretty much anywhere, and they can actually be found in one variety or another in all 50 states. Ticks can quickly turn a fun time outdoors into a not so fun time of removing them from hair and skin, and since they love so many aspects of the outdoors, it can be difficult to avoid them. That’s not to mention all the disease they carry. Here are some of their favorite places to hang out:
- Grassy areas
- Wooded areas
- Low hanging and fallen tree branches
- Wood piles
- Leaf piles
- Yard debris
- Bird feeders (they can live on the birds that feed)
- Stone walls and other fixtures where moisture can collect
Most Common Ticks in MA
Ticks reside across the US, here are the most common varieties that can be found in Massachusetts and what they look like:
- Deer ticks (also called black-legged ticks): Deer ticks are usually a rust color with darker legs. They are about the size of a sesame seed pre-feeding and are also flat and oval-shaped.
- Dog ticks: Dog ticks also have a flat and oval-shape, but they’re more of a brown color with grayish-whitish markings.
- Lone Star ticks: This variety of ticks has a single spot on the female’s back; hence, the name “Lone Star.” These ticks are also a rust color. Unfortunately, this breed of ticks likes humans more than other varieties.
What disease do ticks carry in Massachusetts?
When you feel those creepy crawls on your body, it’s easy to forget they transmit some serious disease (many of which have no cure) that can be expensive to treat. It’s important to remember that ticks can carry more than one disease. Below is a breakdown of which diseases are associated with each variety of tick in Massachusetts:
- Deer ticks: This type of tick is known for carrying some diseases that probably sound foreign to you like Powassan disease, tularemia, babesiosis, bartonella, and anaplasmosis, but deer ticks are most commonly known for carrying lyme disease. The symptoms of lyme disease can include headache, fatigue, skin rash, and fever, and if it’s not treated or treatment occurs much later after the tick bite, these symptoms can turn into an infection that affects the joints, the heart, cognitive functions (short term memory loss and confusion), and the nervous system.
- Dog ticks: Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia are the diseases carried by dog ticks. The symptoms for Rocky Mountains spotted fever, the most well-known of these two diseases, can include the following: fever, muscle and/or stomach pain, headache, vomiting, nausea, lack of appetite, and rash.
- Lone Star ticks: This variety of ticks can also carry tularemia, which can be rare, as well as ehrlichiosis. The symptoms for this disease can include the following: rash, severe headache, nausea (with possible loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea), confusion, fever and chills, and muscle aches.
How to safely remove ticks
It’s important to remember that treating your outdoor spaces for ticks is the best way to eliminate them from your yard and stop them from biting you, your family, and your pets.
Even though you try your hardest to not become a tick’s latest victim, it does happen, so it’s important to understand the safest way to remove a tick. According to the CDC, here is the best way to remove a tick:
- Fine-tipped tweezers are the best instrument to use, and you’ll want to grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
- Then, pull upward without twisting or jerking the tick, using steady and even pressure. If you do twist or jerk the tick, it can cause some of its mouth to remain in the skin, and you the pressure itself can cause the bacteria to enter your blood stream. If it’s not possible to remove the entire tick, leave it alone for healing.
- Once the tick has been removed, clean the entire area and your hands (or wear protective gloves) with soap and water. Alcohol is a cleaning option also.
- You never want to crush a tick with your fingers, so instead, put it in a sealed container or bag.
While you might think you want to discard that tick, think again. Once you’ve been bitten by a tick, the most important thing to remember is to make sure you keep that tick and send it to a lab for testing. Blood tests test for antibodies (your immune reaction to the bite), whereas a lab test is more accurate than a blood test and tests for the spirochete. This way, you’ll know exactly what bacteria the ticks had when they bit you as opposed to waiting on your body to produce antibodies.
And while it can be common to associate a bullseye mark at the tick bite site on your skin with contracting lyme disease, this isn’t always the case. In fact, only 20-30% of people will get a bullseye as a reaction to a lyme infection. That’s why it’s crucial to get tested just in case.
When and how to treat for ticks in Massachusetts
In order to successfully treat your yard for ticks, you need to understand the life cycle of ticks. Ticks go through 4 stages:
- The Egg Stage
- The Larva Stage
- The Nymph Stage
- The Adult Stage
Ticks become active biters once they enter the adult stage, but it’s important to treat your yard throughout a tick’s life cycle to hopefully get rid of them before they hit the adult stage.
It’s also important to be aware of where ticks might like to live in your yard (like we mentioned above) so you’re able to treat all potential tick-infested areas correctly. Here are some important items to keep on your yard maintenance to-do list:
- Mow grass regularly.
- Remove yard debris frequently.
- Plant pest-resistant plants like geraniums, thyme, citronella, and eucalyptus, or consult with your local nursery for the best options in your area.
- Install a protective barrier between your yard and other yards or wooded areas. This can be as simple as adding gravel, bark, or wood chips on the perimeter of your yard.
- Keep wildlife out of your property, as they can be tick carriers.
- Keep pets properly groomed and check them for ticks when they’ve been outside.
- Apply tick prevention chemicals as directed OR contact a pest control professional.
When it comes to tick prevention and yard treatment, at EcoMosquito, we use the “Ladder Approach” to treatment by beginning with the most eco-friendly method possible and working our way up from there if needed.
Most properties see tremendous results with the first method we use; however, some properties may take two or more treatments with our upgraded methods to achieve optimal tick control. No matter if you’re looking to begin a tick prevention program or have found active ticks on your property, we’re here to help.
Contact us today.