May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine

Mainely Ticks is celebrating our 17th year of protecting people, pets, and properties from ticks and tick-borne illnesses here in Southern Maine with an Integrated Pest Management community based approach utilizing education and increasing awareness.  Did you know that 70% of Lyme disease cases are contracted within 100 feet of the home?  You can reduce your risk of contracting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by understanding the life cycle of the deer tick, learning about landscape modifications, and using personal protection strategies.

Nymph deer ticks are about the size of a poppy seed and are prevalent during the months of May, June, and July, while the adult female deer ticks are sesame seed sized and will be laying up to 3,000 eggs in May.   Small rodents, not deer, are responsible for transmitting the Lyme disease bacteria to ticks.  One field mouse can carry more than 100 ticks during peak activity and are vectors for.  If you have mice and chipmunks on your property, they may support the presence of deer ticks.  

Two year life cycle of the deer tick  For a detailed explanation, visit our educational website 

Landscape Modifications  Landscape modifications can help reduce ticks by creating an environment which is less suitable for tick survival along with being less attractive to tick hosts such as deer, rodents, and birds.  Focus on modifying areas that you and your family frequently use.   Clean up your yard and keep the lawn mowed.  Let the sunshine in.  Sunny areas are less apt to harbor ticks.  Keep chidrens’ play areas away from the wooded edge.  Remove leaf litter and brush from your property and perimeter.  Move bird feeders and wood piles away from your home to reduce rodent activity.  Consider using a run or invisible fence to keep pets out of the woods.

Define and avoid tick habitat  Deer ticks require a damp, humid environment to survive; they are most often found in wooded areas  and forest edges in the interface between lawn and woods,  and especially in leaf litter and low ground covers – right in your back yard.

Skin Repellent  Apply an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved repellent to exposed skin –  IR3535, DEET (20%-30%), Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus for protection against ticks.

Protective clothing  Wear light colored clothing when working or playing in tick endemic areas to make spotting ticks easier. Clothing Repellent  Pre-treat clothing with 0.5% permethrin spray.  Insect Shield is a company where you can purchase treated clothing and socks, or you can send in your own clothing to be treated.  Save 20% on your first order by going to  Use promo code MAINELYTICKS at checkout. 

Frequent Tick Checks  The single most important step you can take with your family and pets to reduce your risk is to perform frequent tick checks after outdoor activities.  Use the sensitivity of your fingers to feel when checking favorite tick spots to attach including the scalp, behind the ears, armpits, back, belly button, groin, behind the knees, and between the toes.  The longer a tick is attached, the greater your chances of contracting tick-borne diseases.

Tick Removal  Using a pair of fine pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin.  Pull straight up with a steady pressure.  Since a tick’s mouthpart is barbed like a fish hook, it may take several minutes pulling gently for the tick to let go.  Do NOT aggravate the tick by twisting or squeezing the tick -don’t apply lotion or heat; you do not want to upset the tick and cause it to regurgitate the contents of it’s gut into your blood stream. 

Tick ID & Pathogen Testing  University of Maine Cooperative Extension will identify ticks that you find and will do disease testing for a modest fee as well.  Go to to learn more about the services that the Tick Lab provides.

To receive a FREE Tick ID and Bookmark  Send a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope) to Mainely Ticks, PO Box 70, Wells, ME 04090.