I know as I watch the last bits of snow dwindling from my yard, I immediately think about all the awesome things I can do out in my yard. And because it feels like it's been about 50 years since I saw a lawn without any snow on it, I basically put ticks out of my mind for the season. Bad move.

The big problem right now is that the little buggers are nearly invisible. they just look like dirt on your hands. But they are just as thirsty for your blood as their full grown counterparts. These little microscopic vampires are relentless, especially after spending an entire winter under the snow. They're hungry, evil, and out for your life essence.

It's been a while since we've had a cold enough winter with enough frozen ground to put a dent in the tick population. It's like they've become the new cockroach. Nothing seems to kill them or make them go away. I even saw Facebook posts over the winter on the few warm days we had, where a couple folks pulled ticks off their dog!

We've all heard the horror stories of getting them ourselves. Whether it's an insane tale of where the tick chose to bite them, or a pet coming home with some many ticks on their face they had to take the animal to the vet. Even as I was getting photo permission from corporate, the response read, "Approved. (shudder)".

According to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association, there are a number of things you can do to help combat tick bites. Let's have a look:

  • Avoid tick-infested areas when possible. When walking in the woods, stay in the center of trails, avoiding contact with overhanging grass and brush. Trails are less attractive areas for ticks to live than dense underbrush.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks. Wear a hat and tie back long hair to make it harder for ticks to attach to your scalp.
  • When walking or working in the woods for an extended period, use duct tape wrapped inside out around the ankles to trap ticks attempting to crawl up your legs.
  • Wear EPA-approved repellents appropriate for adults or children. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application; some repellents are designed for application to clothes and equipment only. For more information, see the EPA Insect Repellent, Use and Effectiveness website: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/
  • When coming in from outside activities where ticks may exist, put clothes in the dryer set on high heat for at least 30 minutes. Ticks cannot survive the dry heat. They can survive exposure to hot water, so skip the washing machine and expose the clothing to the high heat of the dryer first.
  • After spending time outdoors where you might have been exposed to ticks, make sure you geundressed in a dry bathtub so you can spot ticks that fall off clothing. Immediately shower using a washcloth to knock off any unattached ticks and DO A ROUTINE TICK CHECK on yourself and your children.
  • Check dark, moist areas, hair and scalp, behind ears and knees, elbows, underarms, skin folds and the groin area. Though it may take time to include a tick check into your family routine, over time it can become as simple as daily tooth brushing.

Really, until the snow flies again next winter, you are always pretty much at threat level 10. There is no rest from these wicked beasties. Well, I mean, you could wear a hazmat suit full time all summer. But that doesn't sound like nearly enough fun to bother. But with a bit of caution, and perhaps familiarizing yourself with the list above, you might be able to avoid the little jerks.

Or you could just do what I'll likely do. Run screaming into the night.


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