Here in Westchester County, the great outdoors is a big part of our lives. From kayaking and sailing the Hudson to hiking the trails of the Westmoreland Sanctuary and Mianus River Gorge Preserve, we never run out of things to do outside. Unfortunately, the more time we spend outside, the more chances we have to get ticks.
Ticks are a unique pest that you have to worry about pretty much everywhere you go – keeping them off of yourself as much as off your property is imperative. They’re also an extremely dangerous pest because they spread a myriad of diseases, some of which can be deadly. Let’s talk about some common ticks in our area, the illnesses they carry, and what to do about them.
Common Area Ticks And Tick-Borne Illnesses
Like most everywhere east of the Mississippi, we’ve got more than enough ticks to go around here in Westchester. Three of the most common human-biting ticks in our area are:
- Deer Ticks: These are one of the tiniest ticks you might find on you – adults are no larger than a poppy seed. Both males and females have flat, oval-shaped bodies. Males are entirely reddish-brown, while females have reddish-brown bodies and black legs and heads. Deer ticks are one of the most diseased species, known to carry Lyme disease, babesiosis, granulocytic anaplasmosis, and Powassan virus.
- American Dog Ticks: The tick responsible for transmitting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, these ticks are larger than deer ticks (around .5mm long). Males are brown with off-white calico patterns and females are brown with a lighter shield and head.
- Lone Star Ticks: These ticks are also on the larger side – around the same size as the dog tick. They’re distinct-looking because of the single white spot displayed on the top of their otherwise brown bodies – hence the name Lone Star. This tick is responsible for the spread of Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis.
The one thing these ticks have in common (besides feeding on your blood of course) is they spread diseases. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the tick-borne illness we listed above:
- Lyme Disease – a bacterial infection that causes a variety of symptoms like rash, fever, fatigue, headache, and eventually joint, cardiac, and nerve damage.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – another bacterial disease that causes fever, headache, and rash. This illness also causes GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
- Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis – a bacterial infection that causes muscle aches, GI symptoms, confusion, headache, fever, and rash (more commonly in children).
- Powassan Virus – the biggest danger with this virus is encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle weakness, and seizures.
You may have noticed these illnesses have a lot of similar symptoms. That’s why it’s especially important to see a doctor right away if you experience symptoms within a few days or weeks of being bitten by a tick. Many of these illnesses can be treated effectively if caught early, but if they’re allowed to progress, they can be deadly.
There are several ways to prevent tick bites:
- Wear long sleeves and long pants in wooded areas.
- Use insect repellants containing DEET, Eucalyptus, picaridin, or lemon oil.
- Treat clothing with products containing 0.5% permethrin.
- Check your clothing and body for ticks after going indoors.
- If you find a tick already embedded, use tweezers to pull it out as soon as possible – don’t jerk or twist the tick’s body, and try not to puncture or crush it until it’s removed.
Most of the time, you’re going to find ticks on yourself after a day on the hiking trail or at the picnic table. However, if you start finding them on yourself, family, or pets on a regular basis, even if you haven’t done anything outdoors, you could have a tick infestation on your property.
If this is the case, you’re going to need professional help. Here at Parkway Pest Services, we’ve been proudly serving the New York City metro area since 1932! Our tick control services include thorough inspections, a customized treatment plan, and maintenance visits throughout the tick season to help you keep your property tick-free. If you’re ready to kick the ticks to the curb, give us a call at (888) 682-8512 or visit our contact page to schedule your service today!