Spring is here, and with spring comes ticks. The tick population of Vermont is on the rise. Ecologists predict larger tick populations as the climate continues to warm. Along with more ticks, comes more tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. Please remember that prevention is the best thing you can do to avoid tick-borne illness. To avoid tick-borne illness, be diligent at keeping the ticks off your body!
Nymphal ticks are most likely to carry and spread Lyme disease. These ticks are very tiny, about the size of a poppy seed. They often congregate in shady areas, especially piles of leaf debris. To avoid ticks, walk in the middle of trails and do not sit on logs, lean on trees, or walk through leaf piles. Check your entire body carefully as soon as possible after being outdoors, and for 3 days after. Wear lighter colors to make spotting ticks easier. Wear long-sleeved shirts, fitted at the wrist, when walking in the woods. Avoid bare feet and sandals and wear long pants.
If you find a tick, remove it carefully with tweezers. Pull the tick straight out, as close to the skin as possible.
If you are a dog owner, ask your veterinarian about protecting your furry friends from ticks. You will want to check your dogs for ticks as often as you check yourself.
Many people use DEET and permethrin in the warmer months to keep insects away. These chemicals are not only harmful to the human nervous system, they are also poor tick repellents. Instead, I recommend starting with a good, all-natural tick repellent. Here is a safe, effective formula you can make at home: