Tick Management Strategies
There are several things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your pets, from ticks.
This includes managing your outdoor spaces so they don’t attract ticks, and wearing protective clothing when you’re away from home in areas known to harbor ticks.
Also, knowing how to properly extract a tick from a host’s body will help reduce the chance of being infected with a tick-borne disease.
Watch the following video and learn simple techniques that will help prevent a tick infestation and reduce the chance of being bitten by a tick.
Credit: Oklahoma Gardening ¹
Video duration: 6:18
How to Protect Yourself from Ticks
“Oklahoma Gardening’s Kim Rebek talks with OSU Associate Professor of Entomology, Tom Royer, about how to control ticks and fleas in the landscape and garden.”
“Joining me is Dr. Tom Royer, IPM Coordinator at OSU.
Tom, thanks for joining us today.
Thank you for inviting me, Kim, I appreciate it.
I get a lot of questions about fleas and ticks and that’s why I invited you here today to talk about these pests.
People are always wondering how they can manage them in the landscape and reducing the problems we have with these insects.
I think the first thing you need to think about when you want to manage either of those pests is to take care of what they’re doing on your pets, because they need a blood meal and they’re usually getting that from your pets in order to reproduce.
So, the very first thing is to make sure that your pet is comfortable and that you’re keeping ticks from building up and causing a problem with your pet.
That would be the first line of defense against them.
At that point in time then it’s a question of doing some things in the landscape to reduce ticks from being a problem and protecting yourself, too.
Because, as you know with ticks, they can be a problem for us as well in terms of potentially transmitting diseases.
Now, when we’re looking at the landscape, what are some techniques we can do to try to reduce their population?
Well, if you have pets you probably realize that, a cat or dog, they have certain, favorite areas they like to lounge around and lay in.
And so, those are the areas where particularly fleas are going to hang around.
Although the adult fleas are mobile, the larvae have to feed off dead skin and things like that from the pet.
So, they’re going to be in those areas where the pet spends a lot of time.
And in the landscape, if you need to do any spot treating with the any kind of insecticide, residual insecticide, or growth regulator, that would be the place to focus those areas.
The other things, just general, are keeping a good landscape around, making sure that you don’t have a lot of weeds that are growing up all over.
I guess what we call ‘don’t let a lot of unnecessary vegetation be around’.
You’ve got a lot of beautiful things around, but don’t keep things that you don’t need around.
Keep your lawn mowed short, that will help with chigger ² problems as well as fleas.
It gives them less of a place to hide and allows the sun to get down and heat things up a little bit and cause a little more mortality.
And that works as well with ticks because they like to crawl up and attach themselves to people by being up off the ground a little bit.
Okay, so one of the primary ways that ticks move onto our bodies is they crawl up from the ground, is that right?
Yes, they like to hang onto vegetation of any kind.
That’s how they detect the things that are moving by and they will attach to them by crawling up on vegetation.
And they can detect CO₂ ³ that’s being given off by a potential host, so they’ll crawl on.
They can also get up on trees and drop down on people as they are walking by, so it’s important to protect yourself.
And one of the ways to do that is to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
And take your socks – I know it looks goofy – but take your socks and pull them up on the outside of your pants so the ticks cannot crawl around and get underneath your pants leg.
And it’s a lot easier to see them if you have light-colored clothing, unlike this black shirt.
I wouldn’t be able to see ticks that are crawling up, but if you can wear light-colored clothing and long sleeves you can protect yourself.
And then use repellents, especially around your feet and in those areas or any areas that might be exposed.
That will at least reduce the chance that ticks get attached to you.
Now, of course, if they do get attached one of the concerns are some of the diseases they carry like Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
What would we do if we happened to get a tick attached to us?
Well, first is learning how to remove them effectively.
The last thing you want to do is grab their body and pull them out because the first thing they’re going to do is vomit up everything that they have in their system back into your body.
So, we usually like to suggest using tweezers or forceps and getting right to the base where they’re attached to the skin, and using steady pressure to pull out the whole tick until you completely remove it.
Make sure that the the mouth parts are removed once you’ve pulled the tick off.
Then, another suggestion is to go to your calendar, I think we talked about this earlier, put the tick on a piece of tape and put it on the day that you collected that tick.
Later, if you have any health symptoms, rashes, or any kind of weird things that are happening around that bite, you have the tick that’s still available.
They can be identified and even could be tested to see if it’s carrying any of the disease organisms that cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease.
And it’s really important that if you think you have one of those to get checked by a doctor right away.
The sooner you can get treated, the more effective it’s going to be, especially for Lyme Disease.
So, overall it seems, the best way for managing fleas and ticks is on the person or on the pet – we’re going to have the greatest efficiency with that.
Yes, if it’s on the person, or on the pet.
And listen to you every week and learn how to keep a good landscape around so that you’re keeping things clean like good mulches, and not creating habitats for ticks and fleas.
Well, thank you so much for joining us today!
Alright, thank you.”
¹ Visit the Oklahoma Gardening website and learn more.
² What is a “Chigger”? Find out on Wikipedia.
³ What does CO₂ stand for?