The weather is finally nice enough to enjoy the outdoors. But, unfortunately, that also means ticks are out there too. There are a number of different types of ticks that are active during spring to summer, but it is the deer tick we hear so much about because it can cause Lyme disease.
Female adult deer ticks and ticks in the immature nymph stage can transmit Lyme disease to a host. However, it is thought that nymphs more often cause the infections. The problem is that nymphs are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, and can easily be missed once attached to your skin.
Nymphs feed during May through July so that is the time to be extra vigilant when you're going outside in the woods or grasses where they live. Nymphs feed on hosts, like mice, chipmunks or deer, but also on humans. Then they drop off into leaves and emerge in the fall as adults.
Adult females also pass Lyme disease. They are a bit easier to identify because when unfed, they have reddish-orange backs but still are only the size of a sesame seed. They are most active during October to May while temperatures are above freezing. Once fed, they drop off into leaves and emerge later to lay eggs.
Click here to see deer tick sizes and other types of ticks.
WBUR’s Common Health discussed the following tips that are simple to follow and could make a real difference in thwarting those ticks:
1) Spray your shoes with DEET or Permethrin. Nymphs live mostly in the leaves. They'll attach themselves onto your shoes and climb up. Treating your shoes will hopefully stop those ticks before they can get a hold.
2) Treat your clothes. Spray both the inside and outside of your pants or buy specially treated clothes. Treat skin that is not covered, like your arms, with spray as well.
3) Heat your clothes in the dryer. When you come inside, strip down and put your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes to kill off any ticks that have managed to attach themselves. Put your clothes in the dryer first, even if you plan to wash them.