Types of Ticks
Ticks are small blood sucking parasites that belong to the arachnid family. They have eight legs and come in two types; one with a hard outer shell and one with a soft outer shell. Soft shelled ticks live in crevices and will only come out to feed, while hard shelled ticks spend long periods of time attached to their host. Ticks feed on blood, which is a great source of proteins and lipids. They feed on mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and as such are often found on domestic pets and even on humans.
Ticks typically live in tall grass where they will sit at the very tip of a blade of grass waiting for a suitable host to brush by it. Although many people think that ticks actually jump onto you, this is not true. You must actually brush up against the tick in order for it to attach itself. Ticks use a structure in their mouth called a hypostome which resembles a harpoon to firmly attach themselves to their host and begin feeding. They typically will stay attached until they become full of blood and then drop off.
Tick Bite Prevention
The first step in getting rid of ticks is avoiding getting bitten in the first place. You will need to take some precautions if you are going to be in the woods, or passing through tall grass. The first is to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts. You should tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants. Ticks will typically attach low onto your body and crawl upwards so if you can eliminate patches of exposed skin then they are less likely to bite you. When you are in a place that you might be bitten by a tick, wear a tick repellent. These lotions and bug sprays can be purchased in any drug store and there are also repellents which you can treat your clothing and gear with.
In North America, ticks are most active from spring to November. If you find that you have a tick problem in your neighborhood, there are a few things you can do to try to reduce the population and lessen your chance of being bitten.
An insecticide called permethrin kills ticks and can be found either online or at most sporting goods and gardening centers. Take cotton, treat it with the permethrin, and put it in biodegradable cardboard tubes. The tubes are placed outside, where mice collect it for their nests. The permethrin kills any ticks that feed on the mice. This system will not harm the mice, but will kill the ticks.
Many people also choose to keep guinea fowl on their property. Guinea fowl, a type of bird, can eat very large quantities of ticks and can often keep your property clear of them.
The best way to protect your pets from tick bites is to keep them indoors. If this is not desired or practical, then you should consider using tick medication. If you take this route, be very careful about what you choose. There have been multiple animal deaths, as well as serious illness, as a result of over the counter tick medication. Consult your veterinarian about possible medications for your pet.
You should brush your dog or cat regularly with a special brush made to remove fleas and ticks (Tips on how to get rid of fleas naturally). It’s also good practice to manually inspect their fur, not only for their own safety, but because they can spread to your family. Washing their bedding, grooming them on a regular basis, and keeping your grass mowed short will help reduce a tick problem.
When planning an excursion into areas where you suspect ticks could be hiding, you should designate a “tick buddy” to check your body. Pick someone that you trust, as you will need them to examine your body thoroughly. Ticks can hide anywhere so you need to do a very solid tick check. You should also remember to check your hair, especially if it is long or thick. Remember that ticks like to hide in crevices, so don’t neglect places like the back of your knees, underarms and groin.
Ticks are one of the largest carriers of disease in the world, second only to mosquitoes. Many people who become sick after a tick bite have been infected by tick-borne illnesses. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as many others. Treatment by antibiotics should be started if there are any signs of a tick borne illness. The types of diseases carried by a tick can vary greatly depending on the geographical area in which the tick bite occurs.
When a tick attaches itself to it’s host it actually buries its head under the surface of your skin, so it is very important that you do not just try to yank it out. This could leave is mouth parts and head under your skin which can lead to infection.
Once you have found a tick, you will want to take a pair of tweezers and put them around the tick, as close to the surface of your skin as possible. Grab onto the tick and pull straight back. You might have to wiggle the tweezers a bit to get the tick to come out. Pull slowly but firmly. Once it is out, you can either burn it, or wrap it up in tissue and flush it down the toilet. Don’t simply throw it in the trash, as it will likely climb out and bite you again. You also do not want to crush it with your hand or feet as that can release any toxins present inside the ticks body. Once the tick is removed, carefully wash the site of the bite with soap and water. You should also clean it with some alcohol or betadine and consider placing it into a sealed container and storing it in your refrigerator for a month in case you develop any symptoms. Having the tick that bit you could help doctors diagnose your disorder.
Although there are many home remedies for removing ticks such a putting petroleum jelly, nail polish, alcohol or a hot match on the tick’s body, there are NOT recommended. While they are usually successful in removing the tick, it will be under a great amount of stress and is more likely release toxins into your body before it’s removed. Using one of these methods can increase your chances of getting a tick borne illness.
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