The arrival of fall usually means cool, crisp weather, changing leaves, and the absence of many of the annoying insects that tend to hang around in summertime. Unfortunately, some species of ticks don’t always get the memo and will stick around as long as temperatures remain above freezing, posing a risk to unprepared Ottawa families and pets. The blacklegged (deer) tick, in particular, can remain active in its adult stage during the fall and winter months. That’s why Weed Man Ottawa encourages year round tick prevention to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
What Are Ticks? Ticks are small, eight-legged pests that feed on the blood of humans and animals. Unfed ticks are extremely small in size, with females measuring no larger than a sesame seed. Once engorged, however, ticks can grow to several times their normal size.
Tick Life Cycle As soon as tick larvae hatch, they immediately begin searching for hosts, which tend to be small animals such as mice. It is during these early feeding stages that ticks contract diseases such as Lyme. As ticks grow, they will start latching on to larger animals and humans that pass by. Female ticks typically lay their eggs in vegetated areas, making neighborhood yards with shrubbery, tall grasses, or wooded edges a breeding ground for these parasites.
Symptoms of Tick Bites & Tickborne Illnesses Although tick bites themselves are relatively painless, tick saliva can cause a wide range of serious illnesses, including Lyme disease. The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, and fatigue. Lyme disease can also lead to joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. In over 80% of cases of Lyme disease, a circular, bullseye lesion known as erythema migrans (EM) marks the first symptom of the disease, appearing at the bite site 3-30 days following initial contact. If the early symptoms of Lyme disease are ignored and the disease is left untreated, it can progress to a second, more serious stage known as disseminated Lyme disease. This stage may bring about central and nervous system disorders, multiple skin rashes, arthritis and arthritic symptoms, heart palpitations, and extreme fatigue and weakness.
To keep ticks at bay, Weed Man Ottawa recommends taking the following precautions:
- Dress appropriately while walking, playing, or camping, especially in densely vegetated areas. Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into your socks.
- Check your clothing periodically for ticks.
- Use an effective tick repellant when spending extended periods of time outdoors.
- Take measures to remove ticks from your property.
- Perform a thorough check of your body, hair, clothing, and pets after spending time outdoors.
Note: If bitten, remove the tick with tweezers and contact a medical professional right away.
How to Remove a Tick
- Use pointy tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure – do not twist the tick, as this can cause the mouth-parts to get caught in the skin.
- Once the tick has been removed, clean the bitten area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container, or by flushing it down the toilet.
(Tick removal tips provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Although it may seem like the fall season provides a nice reprieve from ticks, this is not always the case. Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep your family safe from tick bites and tickborne illnesses all year round.
Questions about Your Lawn? Weed Man Ottawa Can Help! If you have any questions about caring for your lawn, contact Weed Man Ottawa today at 613-746-0883. You can also request a FREE Healthy Lawn Analysis online.