Tick infestations can cause many folks to stop visiting certain areas and can be costly to control. I will be sharing information from a recently revised UGA publication by Elmer Gray, UGA Extension
First, I would like to share some basic background on ticks. In Georgia, the three kinds of ticks we worry more about with humans is the Lone Star tick, American dog tick and the black-legged tick.
The Lone Star tick has long mouthparts. The female will have a white spot in the middle of her back. Common hosts are livestock, dogs, deer, birds, rodents and humans. They are found more in areas where you find deer. The American dog tick has shorter mouthparts. Dogs are the preferred host, but they will feed on humans. The black-legged tick is smaller and has no white markings. You will see them on a variety of hosts such as deer, dogs, rodents, birds and humans.
Second, how do you protect yourself from ticks and the potential disease issues. The easiest things to do are to stay in areas where vegetation is open or kept at ankle height according to Gray. If you have to be to be in more grown up vegetation areas or on forest trails, try to stay away from vegetation that will touch your body and more importantly, the legs. If you know you are going to be in a potential high tick populated area, here are some tips. You need to wear long pants when visiting these areas. You may not be fashionable, but tuck your pant legs in your socks and tuck your shirt under your belt. Doing this will make a tick more detectable. You will see the tick moving up your clothing, so you can see and remove the tick. Ticks that are able to get under your clothing is tougher to detect and remove.
Think about using a repellent. According to Gray, repellents containing DEET are in many repellent brands and formulations. Liquid formulations of DEET can be used on the skin. Aerosols with DEET can be used on clothing and also skin. Gray states that Permanone is a repellent containing the insecticide permethrin comes only in an aerosol and is only sprayed on clothing. Permanone is a long lasting product that will repel and also kill ticks. Gray adds that the best combination is to use DEET per labeled directions on the skin and then Permanone on clothing. Please note that with any repellent with DEET or a product such as Permanone, it is up to the person to read the label completely for proper usage of that particular product. You need to check yourself at least twice a day for ticks when you are in tick-populated areas. The sooner you remove a tick will help you chances of not getting a tick related disease. If you have to remove an attached tick, here are some helpful tips. Remove embedded ticks with forceps, cloth or paper wrapped around the tick as near to the point of attachment as possible according to Gray. Remove the tick with a firm, steady pull. You do not need to jerk or twist. Jerking or twisting the tick can cause the mouthpart to break off in the skin, which can lead to infection in the area. You also do not need to use unprotected fingers when removing. You will need to apply a disinfectant to the site immediately after removing the tick and then wash your hands in soapy, hot water.
At home, don’t forget to treat dogs with approved products for ticks and also keep yard grass at proper heights. If you know you have a tick issue in the lawn, you may need to treat your lawn for ticks with approved lawn products. For more information on tick protection, you can contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email@example.com.