Now that the parks, hiking trails, and camping areas are open, more people are hitting the back country for much needed fresh air and exercise. What they are most likely not expecting are the denizens of the bush waiting in anticipation of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Since people haven’t been outdoors as much, and recreational areas haven’t been cleared or mowed in a while, tick habitat has increased. There has also been an increase in wildlife (the tick’s favorite mode of transportation) coming into some urban areas more during these periods while people have been staying indoors.
Ticks are something people need to be aware of year-round but especially from April through September, although as the weather warms their populations swell, peaking in the summer and declining in the fall.
Ticks find their hosts or prey by hanging on to a blade of grass or leaf, with their hind legs and holding their front legs up waving in the air, waiting for something or someone to brush by so they can grab on. This behavior is known as “questing”.
Common ticks of Southern California and Diseases they may carry, include:
- American Dog Tick (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Tick paralysis)
- Brown Dog Tick (Canine Ehrlichiosis Rickettsia, Canine Babesiosis Protozoa)
- Pacific Coast Tick (Rickettsia Phillipi, Tularemia, Bovine anaplasmosis)
- Western Black-legged Tick (Lyme Disease Spirochete, Equine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis Rickettsia)
- Wear light-colored clothing. Light colors make ticks easier to spot.
- Tuck your pants inside your socks. This will create a physical barrier against ticks.
- Use insect repellent. Chemicals that repel other insects are somewhat effective against ticks, although a heavier concentration of DEET — between 30% and 40% —may be needed. Permethrin is a stronger chemical that kills and repels ticks. Products containing permethrin should be sprayed on clothes, not on the skin.
- When hiking, biking or just walking the dog, stay in the middle of the path (or fairway). Ticks can’t fly or jump, so they can only get on you if you come into contact with the kind of environment they live in: moist, often shady, wooded areas, with leaves, low-lying plants, and shrubs.
- The Sun is your friend. Ticks don’t do well in dry, open areas. Lawn furniture and playground equipment should be set back from the edge of wooded, shady areas. If you’re picnicking, pick a spot on well-tended lawn or open ground.
- Inspect yourself and your children (and your pets), especially the legs and groin. Ticks usually get picked up on the lower legs and then climb upward in search of a meal. The likelihood of contracting tick-borne diseases decreases if a tick is removed immediately, and there’s no risk if it’s still crawling around.
- Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)
- Remove tick friendly conditions in your yard by eliminating tall grass and weeds, trimming shrubs and low branches, as well as raking and removing leaves. Thin out thick vegetation, let the sun in. Ticks love moist shady areas. Avoid over-watering.
- Prevent ticks on animals by using tick control products to prevent family pets from bringing ticks onto the property and into the home. Consult your veterinarian and be sure to use these products according to the package instructions.
- Consider using a chemical control agent in your yard. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks.
Would you like to know how to safely remove a tick? Here is a link to detailed instructions for tick removal. https://globallymealliance.org/about-lyme/prevention/tick- removal/