It’s summertime! The birds are singing, the sun is shining and the ticks are biting. Which means you’ll need to know how to keep ticks away from you, your home and your pets.
After all, these pesky blood suckers aren’t just an annoying nuisance – they can be straight up dangerous.
Each year, around 300,000 people in America catch Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria from a tick bite. And that’s not the only gift that ticks pass out – they also spread other diseases like the flu-like anaplasmosis, the malaria-like babesiosis as well as the Heartland virus infection.
If that’s not enough to put a damper on your summertime fun, also keep in mind that certain species of ticks, like the Brown Dog Tick, can complete their entire life cycle indoors.
That means just bringing a few of these blood suckers home with you can result in a full-blown, hard-to-get-rid-of infestation.
How to Keep Ticks Away
Nobody’s got time for that! Especially when you can avoid all that trouble and heartache simply by keeping ticks away from you and yours. Here’s how to do it!
Clear the yard
You garden, host BBQs, and generally enjoy spending time in your yard. Which means this is one place you absolutely want to make a tick-free zone.
This goes double if you have pets who regularly wander out into the yard – each bathroom break that Rover takes can become an opportunity for him to carry ticks back into the house!
Don’t think there are ticks in your yard? Actually, hiking and camping aren’t the most common ways people get tick-borne diseases. It’s actually estimated that three-fourths of people pick up the ticks in activities in and around the home! Even more surprising: children’s play and gardening rank amongst the riskiest tick-getting activities.
To prevent ticks in the yard, keep the grass cut as short as possible. Ticks thrive in tall, grassy areas so mow regularly and clear the yard of weeds and debris. Better yet, take every measure to completely clear your yard of ticks – here’s how to get rid of ticks in your yard for good!
Stay in the sun
Ticks love moist and humid environments. And this isn’t just a simple locational preference – they depend on moisture for their survival. Tick nymphs, for example, have leaky outer covers that are highly susceptible to moisture loss.
The result? They can’t survive in a place with less than 80% humidity for over 8 hours.
That’s why there are more likely to be tick populations lurking in shady, humid environments so it’s a good idea to avoid these areas and stay in the sun. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Use a tick spray
Spritzing on a tick spray is one of the most effective ways to keep ticks away from you. Just be choosy about what you buy – evidence shows that typical bug repellents like DEET isn’t useful against ticks.
Ticks are fairly hardy creatures and DEET doesn’t seem to be particularly toxic to them. In fact, they’ve been shown to scamper across DEET-treated surfaces to feast in areas where there’s no DEET.
A better option is Permethrin, which is an insecticide that kills adult ticks as well as nymph ticks. You don’t even have to spray it directly on your skin – the smartest thing to do is to get a Permethrin-based spray for your clothes.
Sawyer Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent is our top choice for this – you simply spray it on your clothes and outdoor items and ticks (as well as mosquitoes, chiggers, and over 50 other kinds of pesky bugs) will go out of their way to avoid you.
The spray is also odorless once dried and won’t stain or damage clothes. A simple application also lasts up to 6 washes or up to 40 days of sun exposure so you don’t have to spray each and every time you venture out into the great outdoors.
Wear tick repellent clothing
If you don’t want to spray treat your clothes yourself, another good option is to pick up permethrin-treated clothing and socks. There’s a huge range in clothing options as well as accessories – including scarves, bandanas, hats – so you’ll be able to find a style that suits you.
Tuck it in
One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off you is to wear long sleeves and long pants when you’re working in the yard or venturing into tick-ridden areas like the woods. For even better protection, spray your sleeves and pant legs with a tick spray and tuck your pants into your boots to close off any opportunity for ticks to get on your skin.
Yes, we know – tucking your pants into your shoes or socks is not the sexiest look…but neither is being sick from Lyme disease.
Stay on the path
Ticks love tall grasses and dense vegetation. These types of areas make it easy for ticks to climb up to opportune places by the hiking trail and wait for you and your dog to pass by.
If you’re regularly hiking through weedy areas with plenty of shrubs, there’s likely to be an army of hungry ticks just waiting for a warm-blooded host to climb on. An easy way to avoid these patient blood suckers? Stay on the middle of the trail.
If you have a dog, it’s a good to keep him on a leash so he can’t wander to investigate tick-ridden areas. Simply keeping to the middle of the trail can be enough to thwart the best laid plans of waiting ticks.
Do frequent tick checks
Consistent, thorough tick checks are a wise, low-tech way to reduce the chance of tick diseases. Ideally, you want to find any attached ticks within 24 hours since the chance of getting Lyme disease within that time period is extremely small.
So check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks after being outdoors, even if it was just in your own backyard.
Make sure to check all over the body, including under the arms, inside the belly button, backs of the knees, around the waist, in and around the ears and in and around all head and body hair. Ticks are drawn to dark, moist areas on the body so pay particular attention to those spots!
Run your clothes through the dryer
A super simple way to quickly kill all ticks that may have stowed away in your clothing is to run your clothes through the dryer as soon as you get back home. Ticks can survive the wash but the high setting on the dryer kills ticks in all life stages within 6 minutes.
To be safe, run the dryer at the highest setting for a good 10 minutes.
Treat your pets
The most common way for ticks to gain entry into your household is on your pet. To prevent this, take measures to keep ticks off dogs whether through tick collars, monthly spot-on treatments or with natural solutions like essential oils. Just keep in mind that not all essential oils are safe for pets.
Tea tree oil, for example, is fine for humans but can be toxic for both dogs and cats. Most essential oils, though, are okay for dogs but can be toxic for cats so please make sure the natural flea remedy is safe for each species before using it on them!
Armed with the above battle plan, you’re well-equipped to spend your summer tick-free!