A Guide on Lyme Disease & Ticks in Maryland
6 Facts About Ticks
- Ticks can lay up to 3,000 eggs at one time
- Ticks will remain active as long as temperatures are above 45 degrees for seven consecutive days
- Female ticks reproduce during the Fall
- Ticks are adapted to feed for long periods of time. Their teeth are curved so they can remain securely attached for days on end to eat.
- Typically a tick requires 24-48 hours of feeding before they can successfully transmit infections like Lyme Disease
- They are not insects and are actually arachnids (like spiders and mites)
Tick Species in Maryland
There are four species of ticks commonly found in Maryland and Northern Virginia and all of them are capable of transmitting diseases.
American Dog Tick
This species primarily feeds on dogs and humans. It can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and tick paralysis.
Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick
This tick is the primary carrier of Lyme Disease. Adult ticks will feed during the winter on white-tailed deer. This tick is also a carrier of anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan disease.
Brown Dog Tick
Although this tick prefers to feed on dogs, it will feed on humans as well. This tick can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis and canine babesiosis.
Lone Star Tick
This species of tick has a tiny white dot on its back that represents a ‘star’ – and is not from Texas! It is linked to ehrlichiosis, STARI, tularemia, and the most known side effect — a meat allergy.
How Do Ticks Get On Us?
If you live in an area that deer frequent the answer is quite simple: keep the deer out, remove any cover the deer could use. We have a deer path on our site: the deer have to run/walk/meander through to get to the next spot. It is hot out now, underbrush is thick and weeds are everywhere. We must, must keep the underbrush as minimal as possible.
As deer move to new food sites they (at least 30-50% of the deer population are carrying deer ticks). These ticks are known as hitchhikers and the ticks literally fall off of the deer into the underbrush. Pets and small children that run everywhere are at risk of picking up ticks. The real danger of ticks are ones that carry Lyme Disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is an infection, caused by bacteria spread through the bite of an infected black-legged tick. These ticks are particularly common in the Northeast and surrounding the Great Lakes. These pests may be are approximately the same size as a sesame seed - but don’t let their size fool you! These tiny pests can be extremely detrimental to your pets and your family.
What Does Lyme Disease Cause?
Left untreated, Lyme Disease can cause an array of flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Perhaps the most recognizable sign of Lyme is a rash that takes the shape of a bullseye – but not everyone with Lyme Disease will experience this. Without treatment, Lyme Disease symptoms can become more severe, leading to shooting pains in your hands and feet, nerve pain, irregular heartbeat, facial palsy, or even inflammation of your spinal cord.
What to Do If We Find a Tick?
Most of us, the older generation survivors, always check our children for ticks every night, especially if the children were in the wooded areas of our neighborhoods. We all have heard the horrors of A child having ticks in their hair or on their legs. Ticks, when you find them MUST be handled carefully and removed as soon as possible.
If all you can see is an engorged tick on the child, get to the doctor or emergency room. The engorged tick is fat with your child’s blood. To get the blood, the tick secretes a fluid to make it easier to get more.
Either way, good luck in hoping the tick isn’t carrying Lyme Disease. Again, get to the emergency room or to the doctor. We all know that emergency rooms are notorious for long wait times.
How to Prevent Ticks
The first step in keeping ticks from passing harmful tick-borne illnesses on to your family and pets is to keep ticks from infesting your yard this summer. There are a number of things you can do to make your home less attractive to tick populations, including:
Clear Out Brush
Wood piles and bird feeders are prime real estate for ticks to hangout. Make sure to move these tick havens as far away from your house as possible, and elevated off the ground. The elevation will dehydrate ticks on the ground, keeping them from reaching the shady protection of the woodpile or bird feeder, and will also prevent mice and other rodents from inhabiting those regions on the ground. This is crucial because mice are the primary transmitter of Lyme Disease-causing bacteria.
Cut Grass and Shrubs
Ticks like to hang out in tall and overgrown grasses and shrubs. Like most other insects, they love to hide in the shade until they can pounce onto you. Cleaning up shrubs and keeping grassy areas neat will allow more sunlight into the yard, deterring ticks.
Dead leaves left on the ground to decompose are referred to as “leaf litter”. Ticks like to seek shelter under these leaves because it offers great protection and it serves as a damp, cool refuge in your yard. Pick up any leaves left on your yard, to make sure no ticks surprise attack you while you’re enjoying the outside.
Build a Barrier
Build a 3 ft. wide barrier from mulch, gravel, or woodchip between your yard and the woods. Ticks have a difficult time crossing this barrier because of their likelihood of drying out on the arid boundary. The barrier also serves as a reminder to you and your family about the precaution needed for staying tick-free beyond that point.
Get Help from a Pest Professional
If you've taken steps to keep ticks away from your yard and you're looking for even more effective protection, it's time to give the tick control specialists in your area a call! A professional will have the training and education required to safely apply tick control formulas in your landscape without putting your family in harm's way and to eliminate larvae, nymphs, and adult tick populations around your home.
Here are some additional tips to prevent ticks:
- Wear long pants and long sleeves when outdoors and especially in wooded areas.
- Avoid sitting on logs, stumps, or the ground in brushy areas.
- Put clothing in a hot dryer for 10 minutes before washing, to kill any lingering ticks that may be attached to clothing.
- Control the weeds and vegetation in your yard especially around the edges.
- Avoid overwatering.
- Keep bird feeders at the edge of the yard and clean up debris to discourage rodents.
Do Bug Sprays Help with Ticks?
If you're spending time in heavily wooded areas where ticks like to hide or marshy areas where mosquitoes breed, it's important to be prepared with a powerful bug spray. The most effective bug sprays include DEET or Picaridin.
DEET was developed by the Army to interfere with mosquito’s ability to detect chemicals such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide. It doesn't kill mosquitoes, but it is one of the most effective ways to keep them at bay.
Picaridin is an active ingredient that was developed as an alternative to DEET. It evaporates on your skin more slowly than other chemical formulas, so it can repel mosquitoes and other pests for longer; but keep in mind that just because a product contains picaridin doesn't inherently mean it will be effective. Repellents that are consistently ranked highly are usually sprays that contain 15-20% picaridin.
Natural remedies can be effective, but usually don't last very long. If you're set on using natural remedies, you'll need to reapply them often. Botanical repellents with PMD (a synthetic form of oil of lemon eucalyptus) are your best bet.
The best thing you can do to keep your family safe is to cut down the tick population in your backyard and take measures to help prevent future ones. At BOG Pest Control, we offer tick control services as part of our Yard Protection Program. Give us a call at 410-376-5312 to get started.