The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is forecasting a heavier tick season than in previous years, but it’s not due to the unseasonably mild winter as one might expect. Rather, acorns can be blamed for the predicted surge in tick populations this year.
Oak trees produced an extremely large acorn crop in 2010, which led to a boom in the white-footed mouse population last year. As a result, the blacklegged (deer) tick population also increased because the ticks had an abundance of mice to feed on when they hatched. However, this spring those same ticks will be looking for their second meal as nymphs, but a decline in the mice population may force them to find new warm-blooded host – humans.
All-American Pest Control offers the following tick tips:
- Use tick repellent when outdoors and wear long sleeved shirts and pants, preferably light in color, so ticks are easier to detect.
- Use preventative medicine on pets, as prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Once indoors, inspect clothing and your entire body. Check family members and pets that have been outdoors.
- Keep grass cut low, including around fences, sheds, trees, shrubs and swing sets. Remove weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
- If a tick is found attached, remove it with a slow, steady pull so as not to break off the mouth parts and leave them in the skin. Then, wash hands and bite site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.
- If you suspect a tick bite, seek medical attention.
Lyme disease, the most common tick-transmitted disease in the world, causes symptoms including fever, headache, arthritis, and fatigue. Rocky Mountain spotted fever causes headache, fever, muscle pain, and rash. Both diseases can be life threatening if not properly treated.
“In the summer months, it is important to check your family and pets for ticks after they spend time outdoors, and take proper steps to control an infestation if you find ticks in your home,” Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA.
If you like to spend time outside in the spring and summer, you may also consider a proactive flea and tick treatment for your yard.
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The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.