Warmer months in the American Heartland mean more days spent hiking, kayaking and fishing and more nights camping under the stars. From your favorite river to your own backyard, summer brings a whole host of activities for families and kids. But did you know that your favorite outdoor pastimes come with a higher risk of disease?
Tick and mosquito populations significantly increase in humidity—a quality that isn’t lacking in summer, particularly within southern and mid-western states—so it’s important to know how to protect yourself and loved ones against these perturbing pests.
Prevent Wilderness Woes
Before you wander into the wilderness, remember to wear light-colored clothing and tuck your pants into your socks to prevent easy access for any outdoor crawlers to hide. Spray yourself and your clothing with repellent containing DEET or picaridin to deter ticks and mosquitoes from biting. Upon return from your outdoor adventures, promptly check yourself or have a loved one inspect you for hitchhiking pests.
Be mindful that ticks may also have attached themselves to your clothing. The CDC recommends “showering within two hours of coming indoors” to rinse off stray ticks that haven’t yet latched and drying your clothes “on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks” before they find a host.
When exploring the beauty nature has to offer, keep to the center of existing trails and avoid overgrown property lines. Areas with tall grass, bushes and dense trees are prime environments for ticks to thrive. In the South’s thick summer heat, ticks seek out shady spots and wait to take their food to-go.
Identify the Signs of Tick-borne Illnesses
The Lone Star tick is among the most common in the Southeast and is easily recognized by its brown body and white mark upon its back. This blood-sucking arachnid could bequeath its host with ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) —“tick fever.”
McCauley Services technical director Christian Wilcox recommends familiarizing yourself with common symptoms of tick-borne illnesses such as the following:
- Muscle aches
Sometimes these flu-like symptoms do not appear immediately and could take up to several months to fully develop. The longer a tick stays attached to its host, the greater the risk of contracting a bloodborne disease.
Safely Remove Clinging Culprits
Remove ticks carefully with clean tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Without twisting or applying great pressure, steadily pull the tick from the skin. Either place the tick in a plastic bag for identification, flush it down the toilet or drop it into a small cup of rubbing alcohol. Promptly clean the bite with gentle soap and water and talk to your doctor if you start to experience any of the symptoms listed above or develop a rash.
Pets are also susceptible to tick bites and rely on their human counterparts to stay protected from these portable parasites. Ticks can easily burrow beneath a pet’s fur coat, so be sure to carefully feel for any new lumps or bumps when your furry friend returns from the great outdoors—which could be just outside your door—and remove them promptly.
Defend Against Flying Fiends
Thankfully, ticks can’t jump or fly to latch onto their hosts, but nature has a nuisance that doesn’t have to lie in wait to feed: the mosquito. The summer heat provides ideal conditions for mosquitoes to overpopulate which means your neighbors won’t be the only ones who feast at your next backyard barbecue.
If you look like you’ve contracted chickenpox after an hour outside, know that there are several steps you can take to protect yours and your family’s health. Mosquitoes look for standing water to use as breeding grounds, so sprinkle used coffee grounds on pools of water you cannot eliminate around your home. This will deter adult mosquitoes from laying their eggs on its surface and prevent existing mosquito larvae from maturing.
Fight nature with nature; plant citronella, lavender, rosemary or peppermint to repel mosquitoes from your yard. Do you struggle to keep plants alive? You can also use light citronella candles or apply the same scents as essential oils for personal protection against these itch-inducing insects. Take precautions before you go outside this season and contact us to see how we can make your home a true escape.
Get Professional Protection for Property Paradise
Tick and mosquito infestations can be difficult to eradicate on your own. Keeping your lawn trim and avoiding the bushes will only go so far and do-it-yourself pest control can pose health risks.
McCauley Services uses EPA-registered products and treatments to effectively reduce mosquito populations by targeting breeding sites. Our technicians are licensed and trained to ensure proper application to keep your family, pets and employees protected. Trust our QualityPro-certified professionals to take care of your pest needs before nature bites. Visit callmccauley.com/contact-us or call (855) 571-1455 to set up a free consultation and we’ll customize a plan to fit your needs.