Fall Tick Alert!

Fall is the peak time for adult deer ticks.  This is a time of year when children, pets and adults are active outside, hiking, hunting, playing in leaf piles or disposing of leaves into the perimeter of properties. Be vigilant when spending time in tick habitat and remember to do tick checks immediately following outdoor activities. 

Here in Maine, fall is the time to rake up all the leaves, jump in them, then drag them off into the woods far enough that they hopefully don’t blow back onto the lawn.  This is the also the time that we need to realize that while this may be the easiest solution to the problem, we may be adding to the tick habitat around our homes. These activities also put us into tick habitat as we enter or travel through the “woods edge” multiple times.  This area is widely considered to be at a higher risk for a tick habitat – that’s because dense leaf litter provides optimum sheltering habitat and the high ambient humidity necessary for ticks year-round survival.   

Reduce tick habitat. Blowing or raking the leaves randomly throughout the woods edge will create additional tick habitat.  If you have a place that you collect your grass clippings, it makes sense to use the same general area for your leaf collection spot as well.  Keep the opening to this area trimmed back so that you can easily enter and exit without high grass or thick underbrush. If you do choose to dispose of your leaves on your property, you should create a designated area to do so.  Many municipalities in Maine provide a service to residents where they may pick up or offer a designated collection site for leaves to be taken and dumped.  This is a great opportunity to reduce potential tick habitat around your property. 

Personal Protection. Treat clothing with permethrin and apply an EPA approved repellent to exposed skin.  Wear long pants, tall socks and a long sleeve shirt.  These should be light colored so you can spot any ticks that may climb on you and preferably pretreated with 0.5% permethrin will last for six weeks or six washings.  

Insect Shield (link www.insectshield.com) will treat your clothing or you can purchase protective products for you and your pets which lasts up to 70 washings. Dog Not Gone (link  https://www.dognotgone.com/ ), a Skowhegan, ME based company, also offers protective clothing for people and pets.

Tick Checks Adult deer ticks are most common in the fall here in Maine.  These ticks can be quite small and often carry Lyme and additional co-infections.  The tick check is the single most important step in reducing your chances of contracting tick-borne diseases.  Be sure to check yourself, children and pets after spending time outdoors.  Use the sensitivity of your fingertips to feel for small bumps, starting with a thorough inspection of the scalp, in and around the ears, hairline and neck, arms, armpits. back, torso, belly button, groin area, between skin folds, legs, behind knees, between fingers and toes.  Don’t just look… feel … be thorough!

Ticks are out.  Rememberthat ticks may actively seek hosts any time the temperature is above freezing.  Keep that in mind throughout the fall and winter months.

Click here for additional safety tips.