If there is one thing that causes people to be squeamish, ticks will usually do it. No one likes the idea of something crawling on them, and I do not know anyone who wants to be a source of food either.
You can reduce your chances of getting a tick on you or your pet over the summer by following a few simple guidelines.
When you want to control pests, many first think about spraying insecticide to eliminate the problem. Even though I recommend chemical applications to people all the time as part of a control program, stepping back and figuring why the problem exists is really the first thing to do.
In many cases, all you have to do is think about what an insect, or in this case an arachnid, needs to survive. Like anything, ticks need food, water and shelter. Take away one or more and typically you will solve your problem.
Keeping the grass short on your property is a good way to reduce a tick’s habitat and decrease the pest problem.
Ticks prefer tall vegetation, such as uncut grass, to wait in for a host to come by. When ticks feel movement and sense the presence of an animal, they drop off the grass and onto the host. Cut grass limits places for ticks to lie.
Another good way to reduce your chance of becoming a tick’s meal is preventing its access to you. Even though it is hot, wear pants when you are in the woods or ticks’ prime real estate vegetation. Tape or tuck in the pants legs inside your boots to make sure they have no easy way to get on you.
You also may use bug repellents to stave off ticks. Spray areas especially attractive to ticks such as your ankles and beltline.
Speaking of using repellents, make sure your pets are covered with flea and tick control chemicals. These chemicals are safe for pets and family and provide excellent control.
At the end of the day, make it a habit to look for ticks on you and your children.
Do not forget the pets. Simply run your hands through their coats and feel for ticks.
If you end up with a tick on you, take a pair of tweezers and remove them by the head. Then, wash the bite with soap and water.
Finally, write down on a calendar when you received the tick bite. It may help your doctor diagnose a disease if you become sick.
If you have any questions about controlling ticks in your yard, call the Extension office at 770-535-8293.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.