Tag Archives: lyme disease prevention

Don’t Forget It’s Tick Season, Too

by Jennifer Crystal

While everyone is quarantined at home people have one illness in mind: COVID-19. It’s why we wear gloves and masks, why we sanitize anything we touch, and the reason we practice social distancing. Everyone is trying to avoid infection, even those of us who have already had the illness because we don’t know yet if we have any built-in immunity to the novel coronavirus and we have to be wary of reinfection.

But while we’re so busy protecting ourselves from one illness, we can’t leave ourselves vulnerable to another: Lyme disease. Each year, over 427,000 new cases of Lyme disease are reported in the U.S.—that’s more than HIV and breast cancer combined. Ticks are already out in full force and this is predicted to be a particularly bad season. A recent article in The Providence Journal stated, “Because the winter was more mild, more ticks than usual have likely survived until spring and with many more people expected to be outside this year, authorities are concerned that 2020 may be a bad year for tick bites and the transmission of Lyme and other [tick-borne] diseases.”

The problem is not just more ticks, but that people are spending more time outside. With stores and restaurants closed and people feeling trapped inside their homes, they’re going out for walks and hikes. Children are having recess in their own backyards. To maintain social distancing, many people find themselves straying from beaten paths into the woods. While these adventures are vital to mental and physical health, they also increase one’s risk of tick exposure. 

A  friend of mine in Massachusetts recently pulled three ticks off each of her kids during a hike—and this was on a snowy day when they were wearing snowsuits and boots! Another friend in Colorado showed me a classic bulls-eye rash on her child’s leg. Stories like these are not rare, sending people into a panic, especially when the only way to see a doctor is via teleconference. 

So what should we do? The answer is not to stay locked inside. It is to Be Tick AWARE. Five important steps to follow are:

AVOID areas where ticks live. Ticks thrive in wood piles, long grass, leaf piles and beach grass.

WEAR light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily; this includes a long-sleeved shirt tucked in at the waist, long pants tucked into high socks, closed-toed shoes, and a hat with your hair tucked in, if possible. Do not walk in the grass barefoot or in open sandals, even if it’s a shortcut. 

APPLY EPA-approved tick repellent (such as DEET or picaridin) to skin and insecticide (such as permethrin) to clothing and shoes as directed. 

REMOVE clothing upon entering the home; toss clothes into the dryer at high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill live ticks. Washing, even in hot water, will not kill them. 

EXAMINE yourself and your pets for ticks daily. Feel for bumps, paying close attention to the back of knees, groin, armpits, in and behind the ears, belly button, and scalp. And check everywhere—ticks love to hide.

Another great tool I’ve found is to wipe yourself or your pet down with a lint roller after spending time outside; the sticky paper may pick up ticks that you haven’t caught by other means. 

If you do find a tick, don’t panic. Instead, remove the tick, send it in for testing, monitor your bite site closely, consult with your doctor, and watch your symptoms (for details on each of these important steps, click here.

It’s especially important to keep Lyme symptoms in mind right now, when we think every ache or fever must be a sign of COVID-19. Remember that flu-like symptoms can also indicate tick-borne illness. If you spend time outdoors and experience fever, fatigue, joint or muscle aches, be sure to talk to your doctor about tick-borne illness as well as COVID-19. To find a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) in your area, visit GLA.org/find.

Despite Lyme and COVID-19, we can’t live in fear. Instead, as I mentioned during my recent webinar with Dr. Daniel Cameron, we have to be smart about protecting ourselves from both illnesses. Do get outside, but stay on paths, at a safe distance from others and from ticks. 

Additional COVID-19 and Lyme Disease Resources:
Webinar: Lyme and COVID-19 Panel
GLA POV: Parallel Pandemics: COVID-19 and Lyme Disease
Blog: Q&A on COVID-19 and Lyme Disease with LLMD
Blog: Personal Patient Experience with COVID-19 and Lyme Disease
Letter: GLA CEO Addresses COVID-19 and GLA Community

jennifer crystal_2

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. Her memoir about her medical journey is forthcoming. Contact her at [email protected].

3 tips prevent tick bite

3 Tips to Protect Your Kids from a Tick Bite at Summer Camp

Summer camp can be one of the most memorable experiences for kids. It’s often the first taste of independence, fun from sunrise to sundown, and making lasting memories. A sure-fire way to make summer camp a negative experience for a child is if they get a tick bite that leads to Lyme disease or other tick-borne illness.

For parents, it might be the first time your child is away from your supervision. Away from you saying ‘no’ to Fruit Loops for breakfast. Away from you applying sunscreen. And away from you applying tick repellent and doing a nightly tick check. Don’t panic. While these tips won’t help with the Fruit Loops, these 3 simple tips are easy to go over with your camper before they take off for a few weeks of fun.

Tip 1:   Dress the Part

Wear clothing that keeps ticks off your skin and makes them easier to spot, including:

  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Socks, with pants tucked in
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • For long hair, tuck it under a hat
  • Click here for GLA’s complete Be Tick AWARE tick bite prevention guide

Tip 2:   Wear Repellent

Use both on-skin and on-clothing tick repellent to ask as double protection.

  • In choosing a repellent, check for EPA-approval, toxicity, coverage time, and side effects. Click here for GLA’s Tick Repellent Roundup.
  • Preferred ingredients for on-skin repellent: picaridin 20%, DEET, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Preferred ingredients for on-clothing repellent: permethrin. You can purchase clothing pre-treated or treat yourself.

Tip 3: Check for Ticks!

Check for ticks every day. Look everywhere, they love to hide! And remember, a nymph tick is about the size of a poppy seed; and adult tick about the size of a sesame seed.

  • On scalp, in hard and behind ears
  • Under arms and between fingers
  • On waist, back, belly button, and groin area
  • Behind keens and between toes

Before your kids head off for fun, go through these tips with them and show them how to apply repellent properly and perform their own tick checks.

GLA_3 tips_tick bite prevention_betickaware

Additional tools and resources:

  • Certified Camps: Is your child’s camp taking precautions against ticks? Click here to see list of GLA partner Ivy Oaks Analytics certified camps.
  • Check 4 Ticks poster: click here
  • Be Tick AWARE poster: click here
  • Tick Repellent Roundup: click here
  • Tick Table: click here
  • How to Remove a Tick: click here

Steps to Avoid Tick Bites This Summer

Important steps to avoid tick bites, and Lyme disease, for a safer summer.


It’s the little ones that you have to watch out for. Case in point, an insect the size of a poppy seed: the tick. With summer here, the risk of these tiny bugs—and the diseases they carry—is hitting an apex.

Anyone who spends time outside is at risk of contact with infected ticks. They are most active in warm weather, so the risk of infection is greatest from April to September. Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, can transmit Lyme disease. About 300,000 cases are diagnosed each year, and the rates are increasing over time. The diagnosis rate has tripled over the past two decades, according to Global Lyme Alliance (GLA), a nonprofit working to advance knowledge and awareness of the condition.

Although the disease is not usually life-threatening, “believing that it’s not going to impact you is probably the worse type of thought process that someone can have,” Scott Santarella, CEO of GLA, said.

Ticks wait for hosts by resting on tips of grasses and shrubs. When a person or animal brushes against the tick, it climbs aboard. They slowly suck the host’s blood for days.

If detected early, most cases of Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics. If not, the disease can be debilitating, with potential to affect the brain, heart and other parts of the nervous system. This severe condition is known as chronic Lyme disease.

Thankfully, there are precautions that backpackers can take to protect against ticks. Follow these tips to stay safe from ticks and Lyme disease.

  • Conduct a full body check every evening. Ticks often hide in body folds, like underarms, in/around ears, inside belly button, behind knees, between legs or on the scalp.
  • Set up camp in less grassy or woody areas.
  • Use repellent on clothing and tent floor.
  • Try to keep the body covered by wearing pants (most effective if tucked into socks), a hat and insect shields.
  • Wear plain clothes that are light, so ticks are visible if they’re crawling on you.
  • Always carry tweezers.
  • If a tick is found, use tweezers to grip the head, slowly remove and thoroughly wash the infected area. Go to the doctor for a Lyme disease test.
This article, “Lyme Disease is Scary. Here’s How to Avoid It,” first appeared in Backpacker magazine.

If there’s a Lyme vaccine for dogs, why not for people?

Dr. Harriet Kotsoris, chief scientific officer with Global Lyme Alliance, answers this question and many more as a guest on “Steve Dale’s Other World,” a WGNPlus podcast, part of the StopLyme Campaign.


Steve Dale, a well-known Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and author, understands the effects of Lyme disease on our pets. But he wants to know, “What about the person at the other end of the leash?”  And, if Lyme is considered an epidemic among veterinary parasitologists, what does the human medical community say?  

In this podcast, Dr. Kotsoris shares with Steve what we know about Lyme disease, including diagnosis and prevention. According to Dr. Kotsoris, we must approach tick-borne diseases in three key areas–prevention, better diagnostics, and more effective treatment. One of the biggest gaps in the fight against this epidemic is the lack of an accurate diagnostic test. Without an accurate test, thousands of people are not diagnosed and receive no treatment.

No accurate test combined with the rapid spread of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, makes prevention a must, for both people and their pets. Lyme disease is now in all 50 states, not to mention more than 80 countries. The number of reported Lyme cases has now reached 329,000 in the U.S alone.

Increased prevention alone will not halt Lyme, and will not help those already infected. To develop effective treatments, including a vaccine for people, the need for research is greater than ever before. Unfortunately, despite the increased need, federal funds are limited. Global Lyme Alliance has gained national prominence for funding the most urgent and promising research in the field, focused on the development of an accurate and accessible diagnostic test, treatments for long-term Lyme, and a cure.

Listen to the entire podcast, and why Dr. Kotsoris believes more has been done to prevent Lyme in our pets than in people.


Steve Dale initiated the StopLyme campaign in May 2016. StopLyme is a public awareness campaign that includes the support of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Global Lyme Alliance. 


How To Stay Tick-Safe on the Golf Course This Summer

Another in our summer series on Lyme prevention: How To Stay Tick-Safe on the Gold Course This Summer.

Originally published in Executive Women’s Golf Association Newsletter, June 28, 2016. 

Global Lyme Alliance’s Advice to Golfers: Stay Tick-Safe This Summer

When most people head to a golf course, Lyme disease isn’t on their minds. But even the most urban golf course can be home to ticks that carry the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete which causes Lyme disease.

“Golf courses are the perfect habitat for ticks,” said Gregory Owens of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College. “People on golf courses scare away the animals that usually prey on small rodents, so these tick-harboring rodents flourish.”

Owens and his research team conducted a small 2014 study of golfers at an Orange County, New York course. Nearly 25 percent said they had been diagnosed with Lyme disease in the past—much higher than the rate in the general population in the area, which was 0.2 percent.

Golfers need to be particularly careful this year because Lyme disease is increasing significantly in its normal hotspots across the U.S. and the geographic reach of Lyme is expanding. The disease now affects around 329,000 Americans each year and some experts believe the actual number could be far greater. In addition, ticks spread other diseases and co-infections such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis.

While most tick-borne illnesses—led by Lyme disease— can be treated with antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of those who are diagnosed and treated early still progress to chronic multi-organ illness which may include severe musculoskeletal pain, cardiac failure and neurological impairment, including memory and cognitive loss.

So how can you protect yourself? Here is some expert advice from the Global Lyme Alliance (gla.org), the nation’s leading private nonprofit dedicated to conquering tickborne disease through research and education:

Know the habitat ticks prefer. Most ticks are not usually found on open, well-groomed fairways (though they can live in lawns), but are in plentiful supply on the perimeters of golf courses. They can be particularly dangerous to golfers who think nothing of chasing a tee shot into the bushes, tall grasses just off the rough, or patchy woods. Be very conscious of your exposure if you do decide to venture into tick habitat to play a shot.

Be very cautious when searching for lost balls. Unless you are in a very tight match, think about dropping another ball. The cost of a few extra balls is hugely less than the cost and inconvenience of becoming the next Lyme disease victim. Leave that hook or slice in the woods.

Avoid shady areas as much as possible. Ticks favor areas that are shady and moist. They particularly like vegetation and tall grass in the shade. They also hang out in leaf litter, so be conscious of any areas where any leaves haven’t been groomed away.

Spray on repellent. To prevent a tick bite, spray repellent on exposed skin. Consumer Reports recently named Sawyer 20% Picaridin its top insect repellent overall. It was the only one that could protect against deer ticks as well as Culex mosquitoes, which can spread West Nile virus, for at least 8 hours. Also top-rated were Ben’s 30% DEET Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula and Repel Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus 30%. Wear the right clothes. Most of us are familiar with the advice to wear long, khaki or light colored, pants (to make ticks easier to spot) tucked into long socks and long sleeved shirts. But that kind of outfit is tough in the hot, skin-baring days of summer. On days when you plan to wear shorts, T-shirt and chase balls in the rough, wear clothes pre-treated inside as well as outside with odorless permethrin, a repellent that kills ticks on contact. You can buy the clothes from retailers such as Columbia, Insect Shield, L.L. Bean and REI. You can also spray your clothes at home with permethrin, but it’s important to carefully follow instructions and precautions.

Spray your golf shoes the day before an outing with a permethrin-based repellent. You don’t want ticks to latch on to your shoe laces and crawl up your leg. In one study, shoes that were sprayed with the repellent provided 74 times the protection from hungry deer ticks than untreated shoes.

Don’t forget to spray your golf bag. A common access point for ticks is to brush off on the underside of your golf bag as you roll over longer grass, and then they climb up to the upper part where they can easily brush off on you.


Strip off all clothing immediately upon your return home and put them through a sixminute dryer cycle at full heat. Ticks can survive the wash, but the high dry heat will kill any ticks on your clothing. If you shower at the course, put your clothes in a sealed bag so any potential ticks are contained.

Shower, shampoo and do a thorough body check looking for ticks especially in body folds and crevices. Check everywhere, using mirrors if necessary, including behind the knees, back of the neck, behind and in ears, between toes, on the ankles, belly button, underarms, scalp, and genitals.

Don’t panic if you find a deer tick. If it’s attached, take a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, clasp the tick as close to the surface of your skin as possible, and gently pull it straight out. Clean the area with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub. Stick the tick in a jar or sealed plastic bag, in case your doctor wants to see it, or flush it down the toilet. Some towns will test the tick for you, to see if it’s a Lyme carrier.



Tips for Lyme Disease Prevention at Camp

It’s time for summer camp! Here are 6 easy tips for tick safety and Lyme disease prevention this season.

As staffers, parents and kids prepare for another memorable summer at camp, there is one important detail that must not escape our attention – doing everything possible to ensure that children are protected from the blacklegged ticks that transmit Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the U.S., with more than 329,000 new cases every year. These tiny ticks, no larger than a poppy seed, are active all year round, but they’re out in force during the summer months. tick_data-lazy-sizesUnsurprisingly, children are at particular risk for tick bites, especially as they spend time outdoors at camp. Unfortunately, these “nymphs” are so tiny, they’re often difficult to spot.

So, here are some suggestions to help protect campers and staff from tick-borne diseases:

  1. Know where ticks live. Ticks thrive in shady, wooded areas, taller grasses and leaf piles. When you plan outdoor activities, avoid having kids lean against tree trunks, sit on grass or on fallen logs. Ask campers to stay in the middle of hiking paths to avoid brushing against foliage and long grasses.
  2. Recommend tick-repellent clothing. While children are at camp, it is strongly recommended they wear clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks and mosquitos on contact. Its formula is safe and EPA-approved, and can be used on clothing worn by children. Parents can spray it on their child’s clothes at home or can purchase pre-treated clothing and gear with the Insect Shield label from retailers such as LL Bean or REI. Parents can also send clothing directly to Insect Shield to be treated.
  3. Don’t forget to spray shoes. Since most ticks crawl onto people from the ground, spraying closed-toe footwear with permethrin is one of the best defenses against ticks. (One study found that those with treated shoes had 74% fewer tick bites that those with untreated shoes).
  4. Make sure campers use repellent on exposed skin. Studies show that EPA-approved repellents containing 20%-30% DEET, 20% Picaridin or 30% natural Lemon Eucalyptus oil are the most effective.
  5. Do full body tick checks. Tick bites are painless so it’s important for campers to perform regular tick checks after being outdoors and at night before bedtime. Teach campers to pay particular attention to areas between the toes, behind the knees and ears, armpits, groin, belly button, neck, hair and scalp.
  6. Know what symptoms to look for. Camp nurses and counselors should look for flu-like symptoms following a tick bite. Staff should also be sure to check smaller children for ticks and signs of Lyme.

This post, written by Scott Santarella, CEO, Global Lyme Alliance was first published by the American Camp AssociationFor more information about ticks and other tick-bourne illnesses, check out the ACA’s Ticks – What Every Camp Needs to Know.

Federal Lyme Bill Needs Your Support Now!

For nearly 20 years, Senator Richard Blumenthal has been a leader in the fight against Lyme disease and a strong supporter of those suffering from the illness. He introduced the Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education and Research Act during his first year (2011) as a U.S. Senator and has been fighting for its passage ever since.

Global Lyme Alliance supports the efforts of Senator Blumenthal and asks that you reach out to your two U.S. Senators in support of S.1503, the federal Lyme bill sponsored by him. The bill is stuck in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, with only a few days left to “unstick” it. The HELP Committee has nearly completed its major Medical Innovation bill. (This is the Senate’s equivalent of the 21st Century Cures Act passed by the House, which included provisions of the Lyme bill.)

Our best and most realistic chance to pass Senator Blumenthal’s bill is to get the HELP Committee to add its language to the Medical Innovation bill as an amendment.

Right now, this week, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar needs to hear our voices.

We want to create a surge of phone calls to all senators this week. We need your help now, even if you have contacted your senators before.

If you live in Tennessee, please call Chairman Alexander right now, and ask him to add the Lyme bill’s language to his Medical Innovation bill as an amendment. His number is (202) 224-4944. (Please, only do this if you live in Tennessee.)

If you live in a different state, please call your two U.S. Senators and ask them to urge Chairman Alexander to add the Lyme bill’s language to his Medical Innovation bill as an amendment.

Find the phone numbers here. When you call, you will talk to an aide in your Senator’s office. Here’s what we suggest you say:

“Hello, I am a constituent and I’m calling to express my support for The Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act, Senate Bill 1503. I urge the senator to ask Senator Alexander, Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, to add the Lyme bill language as an amendment to the medical innovation bill his committee has been working on. Thank you.”

You can tell the aide more about your experience with Lyme if you want. Be respectful — remember you are asking for their help.


Rhony Heather Thomson Biting Back Against Lyme Disease

‘Rhony’ Heather Thomson “Biting Back” Against Lyme Disease

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and we’ve launched a Bite Back Against Lyme campaign in partnership with Heather Thomson, one of Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives of New York City.”

Thomson, who has never had Lyme disease but said she has “pulled many a tick off of myself and my family,” says she “stands for the bitten, but I represent the unbitten.”  An outdoor enthusiast, Thomson said she wants to help GLA “take back the outdoors.

In an effort to raise awareness about how vulnerable individuals and families like her own are to Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, she will do three brief grassroots videos and tweet Lyme prevention tips to her followers throughout the month.

“My family and I have escaped any issues because of awareness and education. We check ourselves regularly [for ticks] and take action swiftly,” said Thomson, who has a home in the Berkshires. But “I know countless others, several of whom have gone undiagnosed for too long, creating severe complications and concerns. They never saw a tick, never saw a rash, and never had a clue of this tiny but mighty insect that had infected them.”

Among those suffering is Thomson’s Bravo TV colleague Yolanda H. Foster, of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” franchise, who has publicly shared her battle with Lyme disease. Foster was first diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 and recently called her ongoing struggles with Lyme-related neurological issues a “nightmare.”

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When caught early, Lyme can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, there are no reliable diagnostic tests for the tick-borne disease, no tests to prove that Lyme bacteria have been eradicated or that an individual is cured.

According to the CDC, up to 20 percent of individuals treated for Lyme fail the short-term treatment and become chronically ill. They continue to experience symptoms such as severe arthritis, persistent fatigue, impaired vision, memory loss and other cognitive problems.

“We’re delighted that Heather wants to raise awareness about Lyme disease,” said GLA Chairman Robert Kobre. “Awareness and prevention are the best weapons against tick-borne diseases. We appreciate what Heather’s celebrity can bring to the cause.”

Smart Landscaping to Outsmart Ticks at Home, Part 3 by Bob Oley

When working to make property as tick safe as possible, residents need to pay special attention to the property’s most frequently used areas. They should also keep in mind that drier areas are more apt to create low-risk tick zones.

Other easily implemented measures that can protect homes and surrounding property include:

  • Keep grass mowed short
  • Remove accumulations of leaves and brush
  • Eliminate ground cover such as pachysandra and replace with mulch
  • Keep trees, bushes and shrubs trimmed in order to reduce shade and allow more sunlight on the property
  • Create gravel or hard surfaced pathways to gardens and other commonly used areas; keep pathways free of weeds
  • Use hardscape and xeriscape landscaping practices wherever feasible to promote a drier less humid yard
  • Move children’s swing sets, sand boxes and play stations far away from the edge of woodlands and other overgrown areas, where ticks are known to thrive; relocate them in areas with full sunshine and less shade
  • Use mulch in ornamental gardens and children’s play areas as a ground cover; cedar mulch, which can act as a natural repellent to ticks, works best
  • Provide three foot wide mulch barriers around the perimeter of your property where the lawn meets the edge of woodlands or stone walls as a warning/demarcation line not to cross; maintain mulch to keep it free of weeds and brush

All these practices, taken in total as part of an integrated tick landscape management plan, will benefit you and your family. Being aware of your surroundings and smart about landscaping practices can help keep property safer from ticks and provide peace of mind as you enjoy the use of your property. In case you missed the earlier articles in this series: click here to read Part 1; click here to read Part 2.

Smart Landscaping to Outsmart Ticks at Home, Part 2 by Bob Oley

When working to protect the home and surrounding property from ticks, homeowners should deter deer from feeding on vegetation in the yard because deer are almost always infested with feeding ticks. Once fed, these ticks drop off deer wherever they happen to be, whether in flower beds or lawns.

To keep deer from entering private property, residents should install deer fencing high enough (approximately 7 to 8 feet) to prevent them from entering. If this is impractical, residents can try to eliminate plants that attract deer to the property.

Deer enjoy browsing on a variety of vegetation including apple, pear and cherry trees as well as rhododendrons, mountain laurel, rose bushes, impatiens, pansies, daisies, lilies, tulips and black-eyed Susans. While no plant species is completely immune to deer browsing; plants such as daffodils, marigolds, lily of the valley, honeysuckle, common lilac, forsythia, common boxwood, American holly, Norway spruce, wisteria and American bittersweet are their least favorite food items and generally will not attract them.

Research has shown that the majority of ticks found on a property are located in close proximity to a lawn’s perimeter (ecotone) with woodlands, stone walls, shady perennial beds and garden plantings. Thus, perimeter spraying of these particular areas with a pesticide that kills ticks can prove an important component of any landscape management plan.

The most common tick control agents used today for perimeter spraying are synthetic pyrethroids such as permethrin, befenthrin and cyfluthrin. Pyrethroids are organic compounds synthesized to be similar to the pyrethrin insecticide produced naturally by chrysanthemum flowers. When sprayed, these compounds do not leach through the soil, but are broken down over several days within the top few inches. They can prove toxic to fish in small ponds or streams, so caution must be used when spraying in close proximity to water bodies. For those not inclined to use synthetic chemicals, natural organic spray alternatives are available, such as cedar oil and a mixture of rosemary and peppermint oils.

Any perimeter spraying should be done three times each year: during the middle of May and the middle of June, to kill nymph deer ticks, and then again in the middle of October, to kill adult deer ticks.

Hardscape and xeriscape landscaping practices provide another beneficial component of a comprehensive landscape management plan. Hardscape landscaping practices make greater use of hard surfaces (as opposed to vegetated surfaces), such as flagstone patios, brick or gravel walkways, wooden decks and other similar features where family members and friends may congregate. Xeriscape landscaping incorporates plants that require less water and are thus more likely to survive in a drier environment, the type of habitat in which ticks cannot survive.

This post is part of a three-part series discussing ways to protect the home and surrounding areas from ticks. In the next article, we will offer quick tips for protecting your landscape from ticks. In case you missed the first article in this series, Part 1, click here.

Smart Landscaping to Outsmart Ticks at Home, Part 1 by Bob Oley

Over the next few weeks, TBDA will share a three-part series of posts exploring ways to protect homes and surrounding property from ticks through a comprehensive landscape management plan aimed at creating low-risk tick zones within commonly used areas. By reducing the tick population around the home, one can substantially minimize the likelihood that family members or friends will be bitten by a tick and contract one of many tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, or other viral infections.

These low-risk zones should include recreational, dining, entertainment and gardening areas, as well as areas close to walkways, storage sheds, firewood piles and mailboxes.

Ticks require a humid environment to survive and must feed on a vertebrate host to grow and reproduce. Without these two key elements, they cannot survive. Therefore, to make property safer from ticks, homeowners should minimize the number of potential tick hosts and create a drier, less inviting landscape for ticks.

Unfortunately, ticks feed on a wide assortment of hosts, any number of which can infect them with a pathogenic organism. Immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) prefer to feed on smaller vertebrates, such as white-footed mice, chipmunks, shrews and birds; while larger adult ticks enjoy feeding on larger animals like deer, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits and opossum. Ticks are most often transported into private yards by deer that browse on plants, mice and chipmunks that live in stone walls and woodpiles, and by ground-feeding birds such as robins, finches, wrens and blue jays.

To cut back on the number of hosts found on most properties, residents should develop a strategy that disrupts their habitat. First and foremost, residents must keep their property clear of garbage or other food sources that may attract rodents, deer and other potential tick hosts. This includes bird feeders and the spillage of seeds and nuts that fall to the ground beneath them. Bird feeders should be relocated away from the house or removed entirely.

Homeowners should also eliminate heavy brush and ground cover (pachysandra, ivy, etc.) close to home and replace it with mulch and other less dense alternatives. These areas should be open to as much sunlight as possible. Rodents and other wildlife are less attracted to open and exposed areas, and ticks like these areas no better because they lose the shady, humid surroundings required for their survival.

Residents should relocate woodpiles away from their homes, as they provide nesting places for small rodents, and do away with, relocate or seal old stone walls near homes, which serve as favorite nesting places for rodents. Remember: where there are rodents, there are ticks.

This post is part of a three-part series discussing ways to protect the home and surrounding areas from ticks. In the next aritcle, we will highlight specific types of vegetation that tick hosts find more and less appealing as well as ways to protect property perimeters.

Holiday Hints by Bob Oley

It is that time of year again when we are getting in the holiday spirit, and thinking about going out and buying a Christmas tree or cutting one down on your own. Before doing so however, keep in mind that a holiday surprise may be waiting for you in the branches of the tree: that seemingly inescapable deer tick. Adult deer ticks are looking this time of year for a host to feed on, and that host could be you, a family member, or your pet.

Fortunately, deer ticks will not live very long on your tree inside your home. They require high humidity to survive, and your home just does not present that humid an environment. So if the tick does not climb onto you within the first couple of days of the tree being in your home, the odds are very good they will just fall off the tree and die.


So, a few helpful hints are in order:

  1. If you insist on cutting your own tree down, take the necessary precautions to prevent getting bitten by a tick when you are out in the woods and bringing your tree home. Wear clothing treated with tick repellent and treat your exposed skin with repellent as well. And just as importantly, carefully check yourself and family members for ticks at the end of the day.
  2. Consider buying a tree from a seller where you know the trees have been away from the tree farm for some days or weeks. This will give the tree an opportunity to shed itself of ticks.
  3. Keep your tree outside for a few days before bringing it into your home. Keep it stored on a hard surface such as a porch or driveway, and not your lawn or garden areas where deer ticks are likely to be present.
  4. Spray your Christmas tree skirt with permethrin, a tick repellent you can purchase from sporting good stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or Cabelas. Any live ticks, which may come off the tree and land on the skirt, will be killed by the insecticide.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can enjoy your holiday season without having to worry about unwanted ticks on your Christmas tree.

Hidden Dangers In The Cold Fall & Winter by Bob Oley

Just when you were breathing a welcomed sigh of relief that the cold fall and winter weather would bring an end to the unforgiving spring and summer tick season, think again. Thanks to a protein in their bodies that works like antifreeze, ticks survive cold temperatures remarkably well, and can be found looking for a host to bite such as you whenever the temperature is above freezing and the ground is not frozen or covered with snow.


Ticks have become a year round problem from the east coast to the west coast all across the country for a variety of reasons, most important of which, there just are so many more of them out there. And though the ticks you find in the fall and winter months are somewhat different than the ones you find in spring and summer, they can make you just as sick with Lyme disease or any number of other tick-borne diseases if you are on the receiving end of their bite. In the spring and summer months, depending on which part of the country you live in, you generally have to deal with a collection of ticks including deer ticks, Western blacklegged ticks, American dog ticks, brown dog ticks, Lone Star ticks, Gulf Coast ticks, Rocky Mountain wood ticks, or Pacific Coast ticks. But come the fall and winter months, some of these tick species become inactive for a period of time (diapause) until the warmer temperatures of spring return. However, those that do remain are no less dangerous than the warmer weather ticks they took the place of in how very sick they can make you. These cold-weather ticks include the well-known deer tick if you live in the eastern two thirds of the country, and the brown dog tick, western blacklegged tick, or Pacific Coast tick if you live in the western third of the country. The only upside to this seemingly never-ending tick dilemma is that these remaining cold-weather ticks are usually the adults, and because they are bigger (about the size of a sesame seed) than the immature stages of ticks, they are somewhat more easily detected when crawling on you. The downside is, that because these adult ticks are older than the immature tick stages, they are also more likely to be carrying disease organisms in their bodies that they can pass on to you with their bite.


So how do you enjoy the great outdoors, whether as a participant or as a spectator in a recreational activity, when the reality is that when outside you have to be continually on your guard against ticks. You are likely to find ticks in substantial numbers in the woods, in leaf litter, at the transition edge (ecotone) of the woods with grassy, brush and garden areas, on and along stone walls, in brush and leaf piles, on tree stumps and logs, along hiking and walking trails, golf courses (especially in the rough), in dog parks, and high shrub and grass areas. Considering where ticks can be found, what common outdoor fall and winter activities can be assumed high-risk for tick bites? Unfortunately for us, these activities are pretty varied and can include such pursuits as yard cleanup and end-of-season gardening, raking leaves, jumping in leaf piles, playing in your own backyard, participating in sporting events like soccer and football, watching sporting events from the sidelines, picnicking in the park, camping, golfing, hunting, hiking, pumpkin picking, Christmas tree cutting, etc. Avoiding these hidden dangers is key to preventing getting bitten by a tick and becoming infected with a tick-borne disease. But if you cannot avoid these risky tick infested areas, there are certain prevention measures you can take to better protect yourself and your family.


When outdoors, it is recommended that you wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide that can be purchased from most large sporting goods stores. Permethrin repels and kills ticks and has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by both adults and children. You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc. Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing At the end of the outdoor activity or certainly by the end of the day, you should conduct full body tick checks of yourself and family members who go outside. Be sure to check some of those places you are more likely to find ticks – those more moist parts of your body between your toes, behind your knees, in the navel, groin area, on your back, under your arms, back of neck, behind and in your ears, within body or neck skin folds, or on your scalp. You can never check too often, as ticks can be very hard to find. And if you do find a tick attached to you, safely remove it and seek the advice of your health care giver regarding treatment options as soon as possible. Time is of the essence. Save the tick, dead or alive and place it in a zip-lock bag. Different types of ticks carry different disease organisms, and there are labs in this country where the tick can be mailed which will identify the tick for you and test it to see if it is carrying pathogens which you may have been infected with. If you follow these recommendations and use good common sense when engaging in outdoor fall and winter activities, you can sidestep these hidden tick dangers and avoid becoming sick with very serious diseases such as Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.

Think Twice About Those Fall Activities by Bob Oley

Once again it is fall when we look forward with eager anticipation to those outside activities that take up our weekends, whether it is raking leaves in our own backyard, watching our children play soccer, or taking hikes with our families.  Yet, if a very small but deadly tick has its way, you or your children may soon be spending more of your free time indoors rather than outdoors, too sick to care much about anything other than trying to regain the otherwise healthy lifestyle you once enjoyed.

Ticks are not just warm weather pests anymore, to be vigilant about in the spring and summer, but are now a yearly phenomenon.  And this time of year, as the leaves fall off the trees, you are most likely to encounter the adult deer tick waiting patiently for you to walk by while hoping to get its next blood meal from you.

Should that tick be infected with disease pathogens, those same infectious agents can be transferred to you and your children.  These disease organisms can make you very sick with a variety of possible infections including the all too familiar Lyme disease, as well as other equally frightening but lesser known diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonellosis, mycoplasma, Powassan virus, and Borrelia miyamotoi (so new there is not yet a name for this Lyme like disease).


Ticks generally need two elements to survive – a high humidity environment and a host to feed on.  Without both of these, a tick just cannot survive.  Consequently, you are likely to find ticks in great abundance in the woods, in leaf litter, at the transition edge of the woods and garden areas (ecotone), on and along stone walls, in brush and leaf piles, on tree stumps and logs, along hiking and walking trails, in dog parks, and high shrub and grass areas.  These are all high humidity areas where ticks have access to the hosts they feed on including mammals, birds, lizards, and most regrettably us.


High risk activities for getting bitten by a tick include raking leaves, viewing and playing sports such as soccer and golf, hiking, gardening, yard work, playing in one’s yard, school recess and field trips, and just about any activity that places you in the tick’s domain.


When you or your children are outdoors where there are likely to be ticks, it is strongly recommended that you wear tick repellent clothing. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the EPA as safe for use on clothing apparel worn by both adults and children.  You can treat your own clothing and footwear, or purchase pre-treated clothing with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.  Once per month you should also spray outdoor shoes, athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep the ticks away. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work as effectively as tick repellent clothing

Some simple prevention measures which are highly recommended for you and your family to follow when outside include:

  1. Avoid areas where there are ticks to the maximum extent possible.  This is much easier said than done, but cannot be stressed enough.
  2. Wear clothing that is treated with permethrin.  This is one of the easiest things to do with big prevention payoffs.  Also, you should spray your outside shoe wear, backpacks, etc. with permethrin once per month.
  3. If you do not choose to treat your own clothing with permethrin (good for 6 washings), send it to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina.  It will come back, looking the same as you sent it, but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for more than 70 washings.
  4. Apply a tick repellent on your exposed skin.  The tick repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long.  You can buy insect repellents with chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET in them; or if you prefer using organics, try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
  5. Keep your outside clothes outside your home.  There can be ticks on the clothing from outdoor activities.  As soon as you come in from outdoors, put your clothes in a separate hamper in the mudroom or garage if possible.  Then as soon as you can, put the clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.  The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  6. Conduct full body tick checks of family members who go outside, both when they return indoors as well as at night before they go to bed.  Be sure to check some of the areas you are more likely to find ticks – between your toes, behind your knees, in the navel, groin area, on your back, in the armpit, back of neck, behind your ears, or on your head. You can never check too often, as ticks can be very hard to find.

Choosing the Right Tick Repellent for Your Skin by Bob Oley

Choosing just the right tick repellent for use on one’s skin to prevent getting bitten by a tick is a task not to be taken lightly.  Your health, and that of your family members, depends on it.  All tick repellents are not created equal; there are very important differences between them.  Some are made from organic compounds and contain essential oils, while others are made from synthetic chemicals. Some work for a few hours, while others work for longer periods of time. Whichever repellent you do decide on, you want to be sure it is repelling ticks for the allotted time you have set aside for the outdoor activity.

How Do Tick Repellents Work

Tick repellents applied to exposed skin, whether in liquid, cream or aerosol form, all work pretty much the same way.  The skin is the delivery system for the tick repellent.  Once the repellent is applied to the skin, the warmth of the skin and the temperature of the air cause the repellent to evaporate.  As it evaporates, it releases a vapor close to the skin’s surface that is repulsive to ticks, causing them to want to steer clear of it.  A skin repellents does not kill ticks, only repels them.  And once it is fully evaporated from your skin, it is no longer effective.  So it is essential to know how many hours the repellent is rated to effectively repel ticks before it has to be reapplied.  This information should be provided on the product label, and if not, do not purchase it.

Not All Insect Repellents Repel Ticks

There are numerous repellents on the market today that you can buy to put on your skin to repel anything from mosquitoes, to flies, to ticks.  Contrary to popular belief, a tick is not an insect like a mosquito or an ant, but an arachnid similar in anatomy to spiders and mites.  So what repellents may work to repel insects like mosquitoes will not necessarily work to repel ticks, no matter how much you apply to your skin.

In 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), came out with a list of four ingredients in tick repellents that they determined were effective against ticks.  Those ingredients, which they recommended equally, included the three synthetic chemicals DEET, Picaridin, and IR3535 and the organic compound, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil.  If any of these ingredients are in your tick repellent, you can feel reasonably confident the repellent will work to repel ticks.  To be sure, check the product label, which must state that it repels ticks.  If it does not, choose another product that does.

A great source of information on tick repellents is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA publishes a list of mosquito and tick repellents on their website, http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/, which repellents they have reviewed for safety and efficacy.  The listing breaks the repellents down by product name, hourly protection time, active ingredient, company name, and EPA registration number.  Once the EPA has reviewed and signed off on a particular repellent, they will give it a registration number, which is another important piece of information you should look for on the product label.  All repellents containing chemicals have to be registered with the EPA and tested for safety and efficacy, but not all repellents containing natural products come under this same requirement.  So be careful in picking out the repellent you will be applying to your skin, and always look for that EPA registration number.

What About Homemade Natural Repellents

Using a tick repellent you make yourself from essential plant oils known to repel ticks, while somewhat appealing to the more adventuresome, is an endeavor you have to be very careful about.  There is very little published information available on the efficacy of these plant-based oils in repelling ticks, which is one of the reasons the CDC only recommended Lemon Eucalyptus Oil from the many possible plant essential oils.  Some of the more common plants and their essential oils known to repel ticks include lavender, rosemary, peppermint, citronella, sage, garlic, cedar, and lemon eucalyptus.  So if you are inclined to make your own repellent as some are, you need to ascertain from your own experience with it, how well it repels ticks, and for how many hours, before you put your health and that of your family at risk.

Safety Concerns With Tick Repellents

As with any substances applied to the skin, you have to be careful how you use it.  Young children should not be allowed to put tick repellent directly on their skin; a grown-up should apply it.  Never put tick repellents on the hands of children so they do not accidentally get it in their eyes or ingest it.  Only apply tick repellent to exposed skin and not underneath clothing.  A health care provider should be consulted prior to using any type of tick repellent on pregnant women or infants.  And if you cannot use a tick repellent when outside, you should try to avoid those areas known to harbor ticks.

Product direction on a repellent’s proper application should be followed without using more than is absolutely called for.  Once the outdoor activity is concluded, it is always recommended to thoroughly wash those areas where the repellent was applied.  And most importantly, conduct a thorough tick check of your body.

So by all means take advantage of the outdoors, whether it is in enjoying your own backyard, or golfing, hunting, hiking, playing sports, or the like.  But be forewarned that where there are ticks, and that seems to be pretty much everywhere these days, there is the very real possibility of getting bitten by a tick, and becoming infected with one or more tick-borne diseases. Any one of these diseases can make you and your family members very sick, and they can be very difficult to treat.  Taking precautions like wearing tick repellent on your skin is one of several measures available to you to reduce the chances of getting bitten by a tick.

Preventing TBDs will Make You a Happy Camper by Bob Oley

Summer camp season has arrived, and you have probably packed your children for some memorable weeks away from home. Weeks spent in nature though will also carry risks, and you have no doubt done everything you can to make sure your kids are prepared. Unfortunately, there is a tiny but serious threat that you may not be fully-informed of: the deer tick.

Deer ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of a variety of hosts, including people. Children are especially at risk due to their predilection for playing in grassy or forested areas, particularly during the summer, a peak-time for deer tick activity.

One bite from a minute deer tick can infect you or your child with Lyme disease and other potentially debilitating tick-borne diseases including Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Bartonellosis, Mycoplasma, tick paralysis, and viruses.

Deer ticks, which can be no larger than a poppy seed during their nymphal stages, seek hosts by a behavior called “questing.” They do not jump or fly. Questing ticks perch on the stems of grass or small bushes, or on the edges of leaf litter or other vegetation, with their front legs extended. When a person’s body or clothing comes in contact with the extended legs of the tick, they will quickly grab on and search for a suitable place to bite, particularly around the legs, bottom, lower back, neck and scalp. Nymphal deer ticks will remain attached for several days until they become fully engorged with your blood and then drop off. Many people will never even notice that they were bitten.

Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can be treated most effectively in their earliest stages, so regular tick-checks at your child’s camp are key to early detection. If your children or camp supervisors discover a tick attached to them, the camp doctor/nurse should remove the tick using pointed tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. They should pull the tick straight out, taking care not to twist or squish it, and wash the bite site and apply an antiseptic.

Biting deer ticks will not infect someone with Lyme disease or one of the other tick-borne diseases unless the tick itself is infected. If at all possible, any tick that is pulled off of your child’s body should be sent to a tick testing lab for a determination as to whether or not it is infected with any disease organisms. After following the steps listed above, campers should contact their parents, who should seek the assistance of their family health care provider for advice on initiating prophylactic treatment. Time is of the essence and removing ticks promptly, and taking the correct precautionary measures for medical support and treatment immediately, can prevent the transmission of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

There are also preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of being bitten. If your children are at camp in forested or other outdoor environments, it is strongly recommended that you pack tick repellent clothing for them. You should provide four or five sets of treated clothing for them to take to camp. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks, and which has been approved by the EPA for use on clothing. You can treat your own clothing and footwear with permethrin spray (good for about five washings), or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for up to 70 washings) by brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway or ElimiTick from retailers like L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports. Wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will also provide added protection, but by itself, does not work nearly as effectively as tick repellent clothing.

To further safeguard against Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, campers should constantly monitor their own state of health. If they find they are developing flu-like or other unusual symptoms at camp, they should promptly seek assistance from the camp doctor/nurse. Anyone who wishes to seek medical help for Lyme or tick-borne disease is encouraged to contact a Lyme-literate doctor.

Lyme Disease, Deer Ticks and Campers by Bob Oley

Summer camp is right around the corner, and that means there are lots of details to be taken care of before your children head off to camp. One important detail that often escapes parents’ notice is providing their children with the necessary protection against tick bites, particularly deer ticks, during their stay at camp. Deer ticks are cesspools of disease, and they put your children at risk for Lyme disease as well as other potentially debilitating diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia and mycoplasma.


How can such a small bug cause such big problems for campers? Ticks are parasites that survive by feeding on the blood of hosts such as mice, chipmunks, birds, squirrels, rabbits and deer. Regrettably, they also feed on your children. While deer ticks are active year round, their peak season of activity begins in May and runs through September. During this time, the nymphal deer tick (about as small as a poppy seed) actively seeks a host, and its bite poses the greatest risk of infecting campers with Lyme disease and other tick-borne co-infections.

Deer ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be found anywhere their hosts live. Thus they can be encountered in a variety of settings including lawns, playing fields, woodlands, along woodland trails, as well as in leaf litter and brush piles. They can also be found near old stone walls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs, anywhere their hosts make their nests. They have even been found on picnic tables and benches. As alarming as it may sound, deer ticks are out there, just hiding in wait for your unsuspecting children.


When your children are at camp, it is strongly recommended that they wear tick repellent clothing. Other than complete avoidance of tick-infested areas, this one protective measure will do more good to protect your children from tick bites than any other. The clothing should be treated with permethrin, an insecticide which repels and kills ticks and which has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe for use on clothing worn by children. As an added benefit, this clothing will also repel mosquitoes and other bothersome insects.

In addition, wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin parts will provide added protection, but should be used in conjunction with tick repellent clothing. The tick repellent you choose for your skin should say on the container that it repels ticks and for how long it does so.


Some simple preventative measures, which are highly recommended for you and your children, include:

  1. Educate your children about ticks, including: the areas they as campers should try to avoid, the tick repellent clothes they should wear, and how to properly use tick repellents on exposed skin. Educating them about ticks is well worth the effort and essential in keeping them safe.
  2. Find out whether the summer camps your children are attending are aware of the dangers posed by ticks and whether they have a tick management program in place to protect campers from ticks. If they do not, it should be cause for concern. As a matter of course, camps should also notify children’s parents immediately when an embedded tick is found on one of their campers, as prompt medical treatment may be advisable.
  3. When doing outside camping activities, your children should wear clothing (T-shirts, sweat shirts, shorts, pants, socks) that is treated with permethrin. This is one of the easiest things to do, and it has big prevention payoffs. You can treat your own children’s clothing (good for 6 washings) or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for 70 washings) with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.
  4. If you do not choose to treat your children’s clothing with permethrin, you can send their clothes to be treated at the Insect Shield facility in North Carolina. Clothing will come back looking the same as you sent it but with the permethrin protection bonded to the fabric and good for 70 or more washings. Visit the Insect Shield website, www.insectshield.com, for directions on how this can be easily accomplished.
  5. Spray outdoor shoes (sneakers, sandals, hiking boots, etc.), athletic gear, tennis bags, back packs, camping gear, beach towels (anything that could end up on the ground outside) with permethrin to keep ticks away. This protection will last for about 30 to 40 days when it will start to lose its effectiveness due to exposure to the elements.
  6. Make sure campers wear tick repellent on their exposed skin. The repellent must say on the container that it repels ticks. You can buy insect repellents with synthetic chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET, all of which have been approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as effective against ticks. If you prefer using organics, you can try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil. Most of these tick repellents will work for 4 to 6 hours, so they may need to be applied a couple of times per day depending on what outdoor camp activities are taking place.
  7. Teach children how to properly apply tick repellent. If children are younger than 10 years old, you may want them to seek the help of camp counselors in applying it.
  8. If your children attend a day camp, keep their outside clothes outside your home, as ticks can be on clothing from outdoor activities. When your children come home at the end of the camp day, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage if possible. As soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  9. Educate your children on how to conduct body checks for ticks following outside activities, as well as at night before they go to bed. Ticks like to attach around moist areas of the body, and can often be found between the toes, behind the knees, in the navel and groin areas, armpits, back of neck, skin creases, and hair. Your children can never check themselves too often for ticks, as they can be very hard to find.

When children arrive at camp, you want them to be able to enjoy themselves. By taking these personal protective and preventive measures for your children, you can ensure their camp experience is incredible. Don’t be hasty; your children’s health may depend on it. Take the time to follow through on these sensible recommendations. Educate your children about ticks and tick-borne diseases so when they do get to camp, they will be fully prepared for the ticks, which will surely be lying in wait for them.

Winter Warning! Beware of Deer Ticks by Bob Oley

Outdoor enthusiasts beware! Whether you are walking your dog, playing winter golf, enjoying cross country skiing, hunting, or just going out to the woodpile to get wood for your fireplace, you need to know that deer ticks are lurking out there, just waiting for you to make an appearance. Unfortunately for all of us, deer ticks do not disappear during the winter months, and can be quite active all year round.

During the spring, summer and early fall months, the species of ticks you might encounter in different parts of the country can include the deer tick, American dog tick, Lone Star tick, Gulf Coast tick, and the Rocky Mountain Wood tick. And infectious diseases this all-star cast of ticks can transmit to people include Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and Colorado tick fever.

Fortunately, once we enter the latter part of the fall season, most of these infected ticks disappear, with the notable exception of the deer tick. The reason for this has to do with a phase these ticks go through called diapause. As the average daytime temperatures begin to drop and the days get shorter, these ticks slow down their metabolism and stop looking for a host to feed on. Simply put, they wait out the cold winter months in the refuge of the leaf litter or some similarly protected microenvironment, and generally do not become active again until the following spring.

Regrettably for us, deer ticks do not go into this resting diapause state. Throughout the winter months, the adult female deer tick (about the size of a sesame seed) is looking for a host to get the blood meal she will need to lay her eggs in the spring before she dies. The adult male deer tick generally does not feed on a host, but is looking only to mate with his female counterpart.

The one bit of good news in this bad news scenario is that deer ticks, which are cold blooded invertebrates, will not actively look for a host to feed on if the temperature is below 32 degrees and the ground is frozen or covered with snow. However, given the number of increasingly warm winter days we are experiencing, more and more deer ticks will be looking for a host all winter long. This spells big trouble for anyone who ventures outside during the winter months – which is pretty much each and every one of us.

Deer ticks are waiting for you anywhere there is leaf litter, grass, brush and woodlands, and around your homes where they can sense the carbon dioxide in your breath, the heat of your body, and the vibrations of your steps as you walk. And once you make contact with them, they grab onto you in an instant and start climbing up your clothing until they find exposed skin into which they can insert their mouthparts for a blood meal. There they will stay attached for several days, most oftentimes on unseen areas of the body including the back of your head, hair, armpit, groin, back of the knees, navel, and your back.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you are safe from having to worry about ticks and the tick-borne diseases they carry in the colder winter months. Always be aware of your environment and maintain your guard against ticks when you enjoy outdoor activities. Carefully check yourselves, your children and your pets for ticks after coming in from outside, use insect repellents on your clothing and skin whenever possible, and protect your pets with topical sprays and spot-on products.