Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know about Ticks…And Stay Disease-Free

Blacklegged ticks (also known as Deer ticks) take two years to complete their life cycle and are found predominately in deciduous forest.

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks

Blacklegged ticks or Deer ticks

Their distribution relies greatly on the distribution of its reproductive host, white-tailed deer. Both nymph and adult stages transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.

Following are the top 5 things everyone should know about Ticks…and stay disease-free (to read #6-10, click here.

5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection

Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. You’ll probably want to check even more carefully if you know you’ve likely been exposed.

Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a “re-activation” period in the tick once it begins to feed. The germs eventually make their way into the tick’s salivary glands and the tick spits them into you while feeding.

Some infections, especially viruses, move into the tick salivary glands faster than others. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.

4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin

And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, upper mid-western U.S., and southern Canada, it’s important to know what you’re really looking for.

They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up—under clothing—and biting in hard-to-see places.

3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer

Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed to the front end, which by the way, is attached to you by the tick’s straw-like mouthpart.

Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter. Don’t worry if the mouthpart stays in your skin as long as you’ve got the rest of the tick by its head.

Other tick removal methods, like a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap, and cotton, or various little key-like devices don’t work as consistently as pointy tweezers on all types of ticks. Remember to save the tick and try to identify it.

2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bite

DEET-containing products were thought to be a good option for preventing tick bites.

However, recent tests have shown that although DEET is an excellent repellent for mosquitoes, black flies, and gnats, it’s only effective at repelling ticks for brief time periods after being applied and then must be re-applied.

A better option for repelling ticks are “Clothing Only Repellents” such as those containing Permethrin—found in Permanone® Products, Sawyer Clothing-Only Repellent® and Repel®.

These products contain about 0.5% Permethin, much less than the amount used to treat head lice on children or Scabies mite infestations of the skin. In the case of tick repellents, using more of the active ingredient than this is unnecessary, and can even lead to chemical overexposure.

You can purchase tick repellent clothes containing permethrin—easiest and most cost-effective—or use sprays and soaking kits to treat your own clothes with permethrin tick repellent.

Commercially treated clothing remains tick repellent through 70 wash cycles while treat-at-home sprays and kits provide effective repellency for up to six washings.

An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing—shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt—with permethrin tick repellent built-in.

Tick repellent on clothing, not skin is something everyone needs to know about to stay safe outdoors.

1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable

There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life!

Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.

Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!


TickEncounter Resource Center (TCRC)

The following information is courtesy of the non-profit Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center.

The TickEncounter Resource Center promotes tick-bite protection and tick-borne disease prevention by engaging, educating, and empowering people to take action.


Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series about ticks and Lyme disease

Part 1: Top 10 things RVers Should Know about Ticks

Worth Pondering…

We, the artists, make the stuff they sell and they’re like ticks on our backs, sucking the life out of us.
—Malcolm Wilson

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