Winter is in full swing here in Connecticut. Before we know it, the holidays will fly by, and the new year will be upon us. Now's the time to start thinking about tick control. Whether you have dogs that need protecting or love being outdoors, it's important to know how to identify ticks, remove them safely, and prevent future infestations in your yard.
How to Identify Ticks
There are few key things to look for that distinguish ticks from fleas. Ticks are larger than fleas and don't have the ability to hop great distances. Instead, they will cling to leaves, branches, and other plants and wait for a host to come along. When the host brushes the plant, they will latch. Ticks also have eight legs, whereas fleas only have six. Unlike ticks, fleas live their lives on a single host and will move around. If you part your pets' fur and notice insects the size of a pinpoint scuttling about, you probably have fleas, not ticks.
There are many varieties of ticks in the US. Some species only bite during later stages in life, while others can bite humans and pets before reaching the adult stage of their life cycle. And some are active year-round, so don't assume you're safe just because it's cold outside.
The most likely species you will encounter in Connecticut are the following:
- Black-legged Ticks - All stages can bite humans, and adults will seek a host even in winter, so long as the temperature is above freezing.
- Lone Star Ticks - so named for the white spot on the biting adult females; if bitten, you could experience an allergic reaction after consuming red meat.
- American Dog Ticks - Adult females are most likely to bite.
- Groundhog Ticks - found primarily in the eastern US; all life stages feed on animals and humans; they can transmit the Powassan virus.
How to Remove Ticks Safely
When you discover a tick on yourself or your pet, it's quite upsetting. They carry horrible diseases, and they're just plain disgusting! While your first instinct may be to rip it off, this is the worst thing to do. If the tick is infected with a disease, crushing it could cause the toxins in its stomach to regurgitate into the open wound. Yes, it makes the tick vomit into the open bite. You should also not wait for the tick to finish feeding and fall off. Remove it as soon as you see it, but do so safely. To remove the tick, put on latex gloves and grab a pair of tweezers. Carefully grab hold of the tick with the tweezers and get as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight up, so the tick and head are removed entirely. Immediately flush the tick down the toilet or kill it by dropping it into a dish of rubbing alcohol. Disinfect the bitten area with rubbing alcohol and wash your hands with soap and water.
Tick Control for Pets
Because pets, especially dogs, are more likely to romp through wooded areas and frolic in the grass, they are more likely to pick up ticks than humans. It's important to always check your pet after being in the woods or a field of tall grasses. Tick control for puppies is even more crucial as your furry friend may not have all their shots yet. Use a flea comb to brush their hair and watch for anything clinging to their skin. Pro tip: make sure to look between their paws as this often overlooked area is a perfect hiding spot for pests.
How to Control Tick Infestations
The first step is preventing them before they happen. There are a variety of tick repellents you can use, from natural remedies to stronger chemicals.
Natural Tick Repellents
You can use several household products and essential oils to create a gentle but effective means of tick control. You can fill a spray bottle with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for every cup of water and spray this mixture on clothes and exposed skin to encourage ticks to stay away. You can also eat garlic! Regularly eating garlic in meals will cause your body to produce an odor unfavorable to ticks. If you're not a fan of garlic, Tea Tree oil, citronella oil, cedar oil, and peppermint oil can all be applied to skin and clothing. Cedar oil will actually kill ticks, and, unlike garlic, it doesn't leave behind an odor.
Note: Do NOT feed garlic to pets and do not use essential oils on cats. Ask your vet before applying anything on your pets.
Chemical Tick Repellents
You can find these at any big box store or sporting goods store. They are certainly stronger than natural remedies, but if you plan on going deep into the woods, this may be better suited for your situation. Be sure to read the labels and know how often you should reapply for maximum protection.
Professional Tick Control
The best way to plan for springtime tick season is to hire lawn care professionals to spray your yard. This will prevent future infestations and kill any ticks already inhabiting your property. The chemicals used are environmentally safe, so you won't need to fret about damage to your flower beds. It's one less thing for you to keep track of, and you won't have to fumigate yourself with bug spray every time you step outside.
Get Tick Control in Connecticut - Call Naturally Green Lawn Care
Protect your family and pets today! Naturally Green is proud to offer flea and tick control in the Greenwich area and the following counties: Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, New London, Middlesex, and Lower Windham County. Call 203-230-9212 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. For more lawn care tips, check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!