Best Practices for Avoiding Ticks This Season

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Warmer weather is here and more people are going outside to enjoy it. Whether you’re heading outdoors for leisure or to get some yard work done, it’s important to watch out for ticks. 

This time of year, ticks are out, and they are determined. 

“Ticks only feed once over a several month period. And so they invest a lot of effort into wherever they are, and they literally glue themselves in place and they’re making a commitment to the fact that that’s where they’re going to have that meal,” said Dr. Stephen Rich, Microbiology Professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Executive Director of the New England Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases (NEWVEC). 

Dr. Rich says there are two activity periods for black-legged ticks, the most common carrier of Lyme Disease, before and after Summer. 

“What I tell people is when you’re planting your garden and when you’re kind of done with the garden, those are the times when there is most active tick season,” said Dr. Rich, adding that ticks tend to hang out where the yard meets the woods. 

“Where they really like to be is right on the edge of where that grass meets the wooded area. Keep your grass cut, keep the leaves blown because they really like leaf litter,” said Dr. Rich. 

Mosquito and special tick repellents can also help. Wearing light clothing makes it easier to spot them. 

Ticks also tend to move upwards, so having your pants tucked into your socks and your shirt tucked into your pants is a great way to prevent a tick bite while outdoors. 

“If they crawl up on the outside of the sock and not up into your pant leg, there’s a chance that they won’t find a place to bite on you or that they may actually get brushed off before they find a place to attach,” said Dr. Rich. 

Body checks for ticks are extremely important. Dr. Rich says it’s important to pay especially close attention to the parts of the body that form a ‘Y’. 

“They tend to go up in the armpits and the hairlines, groin area and that kind of thing, they don’t get right in the middle of your palm,” said Dr. Rich. 

If you do find a tick on you, the best way to remove it is using a fine pair of forceps. 

“They’re a little bit different than the tweezers that you might have in your medicine cabinet. Those are particularly effective for getting down close to where the tick is meeting the skin and pulling it out,” said Dr. Rich. 

As ticks evolve, so are the innovative tools, like Bug Bite Thing Tick Remover, designed to safely remove ticks of all types and sizes. 

“It’s a very effective tool,” said Dr. Rich, who has teamed up with other leading medical experts in the fight against ticks. 

Experts say if you’re bit by a tick, getting it tested can help determine the risk of a bite, which could depend on tick species and whether the tick is infected. 

According to the Global Lyme Alliance, recent estimates suggest there are as many as 476,000 new cases of Lyme Disease in the US each year.