Things That Attract Ticks And How You Can Prevent Them
More ticks have been recently moving closer to people’s dwelling places as a result of changes in climate as well as farming practices. It’s important for a homeowner to know what is attracting ticks to your home so you can take preventative measures.
Apart from mosquitoes, ticks have been found to pose the greatest health risks to humans as well as domestic animals, including pets. They can transmit an array of serious illnesses such as babesiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Fever and ehrlichiosis to people.
What Attracts Ticks?
If you see ticks around your home, or on your animal or yourself, you must acknowledge that something is attracting them. Here are some of the things that attract ticks:
1. Light colored clothes
According to a New Jersey’s infectious disease specialist, Dr. Tracy Zivin-Tutela, light-colored items such as clothes attract ticks more as compared to dark-colored ones. Therefore, if you intend to go for errands in possibly tick-infested areas such as grasslands, wooded places or a lawn with a suspected or confirmed tick infestation, it is important that you put on dark-colored clothes.
2. Carbon dioxide from potential hosts
Tick hosts such as humans, dogs, cows, cats, and rodents breathe out a certain amount of carbon dioxide with particular elements. A tick normally has a tiny structure known as Haller’s organ on its leg. The structure acts as a sensory pit for the detection of chemicals and smells in the air. Ticks will use their Haller’s organs to sniff out the carbon dioxide exhaled by their potential host from quite a distance. They then move towards the sources of the gas to try if the animals producing it could host them for blood meals.
3. Tall grass
Ticks frequent areas with tall grass since they offer them favorable hiding grounds. Besides, ticks climb on tall grass as they wait for passing potential hosts to attach themselves to. Although ticks have poor eyesight, can’t run and jump at a host, they have an interesting way of attacking their hosts. All they do is to attach themselves to grass, extend out their prickly legs and wait for a potential host to pass by. When a host brushes against a tick, the bloodsucker attacks itself on the animal swiftly and locate the soft and hidden body parts where it bites and sucks blood from.
A lawn, yard or grassland with grass blades that are over three-inch tall offers low-light, high-humidity and breeze-free grounds where ticks thrive hassle-free. Things get worse when the area has organic debris or moist litter as they attract various tick hosts.
Some clutter such as decomposing wood, swing-sets, and broken household items are likely to attract tick hosts like rodents and possums. The presence of these animals makes your place susceptible to tick infestations because as we mentioned earlier, ticks can use their sensory powers to track them. Besides, after falling off from the hosts, ticks are likely to hide beneath these clutters. Therefore, as long as you have a littered place, you won’t be able to address a pest problem comprehensively.
Tick Prevention Tips
Here are a few tips that you can apply to avoid ticks:
Wear dark-colored protective clothing
As mentioned earlier, ticks are attracted to dark-colored clothing. Therefore, if you wear light-colored clothes, your chances of having ticks become less. Also, since ticks are brown or dark-colored, it becomes easy to spot them as they climb on your bright clothes.
Additionally, you should give ticks a hard time in locating exposed areas of your body even if they manage to cling to your clothes. Before heading out for your outdoor activities in areas that are likely to have ticks, put on long-sleeved clothes, long pants, closed-toe shoes and thick socks. It will be nice if all of them are bright. A great practice is to tuck in the legs of the pants into the socks.
Check your pets and kids from high-risk areas
After spending their good time outdoors, ensure that you screen your kids and pets for ticks that might be on their bodies and clothes. Remove any ticks that they may be carrying along and exterminate them (ticks).
Stay on the trail
If you decide to take a walk in the woods, avoid as much as you can to avoid getting into contact with brushes and high vegetation. Ticks mostly say in shrubs and bushes waiting for people or other potential hosts such as dogs to brush against them so that they can quickly attach themselves to them and later find spots from which they can suck blood. Therefore, it is advisable that you keep to the center of the trail as you explore these high-risk places.
Inspect and shower
Once you come home from an area with ticks, take out your clothes immediately and check if the bloodsuckers are clinging on them. You can use a fine-tooth comb to comb through your hair to remove the ticks that might be on your head.
If you find any tick, kill it by pressing it with a hard object such as a stick or a stone against a hard surface or flush it down your toilet. Alternatively, you can whirl the clothes in a dryer for around five minutes to kill present ticks since they are highly susceptible to drying out.
Then, take a shower to wash down those that might be climbing up your body or biting you. By so doing, you’ll have denied the bugs a privilege to multiply in your home and become a serious infestation.
Treat your pets and family
There are various products, natural and man-made, that you can use to treat yourself for ticks. You can get anti-tick products in the form of spot-on, acaricide sprays and medicated collars from your local veterinary store. Alternatively, for a safer and more eco-friendly tick prevention approach, you can use home-made natural remedies such as rose geranium essential oil, lemongrass oil or a blend of the two oils.
You just need to add two to three drops of the oils to a cup of water and then spray the blend on your family’s clothes and pets. Alternatively, you can put a drop of the oil on your shoes as well as your kids’ before heading out to possibly or confirmed tick-infested areas. The smells of the oils are very effective tick-repellants.
Form a perimeter barrier
A wooded area near your home makes your residence highly vulnerable to tick infestation. you can prevent ticks from the nearby forest or grassland areas by creating a perimeter barrier around your home using wood chips or hard stones. The barrier should be free from plant litter and other wet and organic items that may be favorable to them. With the barrier, the bugs won’t be able to come to your home compound since they will dry out excessively as they attempt to cross over the perimeter.
Maintain a dry backyard
Ticks are mostly found in areas with long grasses and shrubs and that’s why you are more likely to find them in your backyard than anywhere else in your home. since drying out it the leading killer of ticks, it is important that you keep your lawn dry to eradicate the ticks that might be there and to discourage the ones that could be trying to come over.
Hopefully, you are at least a step wiser as far as tick prevention and what attracts these parasites. With this information, you’ll be in a better position to keep the pests at bay.***