5 tips on avoiding ticks this autumn

Avoiding ticks this autumn

Ticks can remain active all year round but are usually most active between Spring and October, so as summer turns to autumn, whether you’re regularly walking your dog, or out for a stroll we’ve got five top tips to help you avoid and deal with ticks.

Tip 1 – Understand where ticks live

Ticks are most likely to be found in these environments:

  • Woodlands and woodland edges
  • Heathland
  • Moorland
  • Grasslands

They can even be found in gardens.

They particularly like moist microclimates and leaf litter where they are trying to avoid drying out.

Tip 2 –  Be aware of how they climb on a host

When ticks need to feed, they climb up vegetation, getting higher off the ground, ready to climb on a passing host (they don’t jump or fly).

Ticks detect vibrations of approaching hosts and also the carbon dioxide being breathed out. They have their front legs waving, ready to climb on. (Sounds horrible doesn’t it?)

The majority of these tiny, spider-like creatures feed on wild animals including foxes, badgers, woodland birds and bats. However, certain ticks also feed on pets (particularly dogs), humans, birds and other mammals. This is why we need to be aware.

Tip 3 – Choose paths or shorter grass to walk on

The ticks will have climbed up the longer grass that brushes against legs or trousers, so when out in grassy areas:

  • Keep to the middle of a path
  • Avoid longer grass or overhanging vegitation

Tip 4 – Cover up and brush down

If you know you’re going to be walking in a grassy area, wear long trousers, tuck them into socks or consider wearing wellies. Wearing lighter coloured trousers could also help you see any ticks on the fabric – although sometimes ticks are too small to spot easily.

Once you’ve finished your walk, give your clothes a brush down in case there are any ticks clinging on and also check your pet regularly.

Tip 5 – Know how to remove or get rid of ticks

If you find a tick feeding on yourself or your pet, do not attempt to burn it off with a match, squeeze it or use a fingernail or nail polish. These do not work and you increase the risk of the tick producing more saliva into the bite.  Instead, use a bespoke tick remover.

Using a tick remover

Using a tick remover is very simple as this video shows and they’re cheap to purchase.

Clean the area afterwards with antiseptic and wash your hands thoroughly.

If you don’t have a tick remover, in an emergency, you could try using fine point tweezers attempting to gently hold the tick as close as you can to their mouth part/head (closest to your skin), not their rear end (as you’re likely to simply squash it rather than remove it) and pull up with a slow but firm motion. If it doesn’t come out easily, don’t keep trying, go to the vets and ask them to remove it for you.

If you’re worried about ticks on your pet that might lay undiscovered, consider using a flea treatment that kills ticks too.

Many flea treatment products which are available without a prescription, also kill attached ticks. Check the packet of your pet’s flea treatment to see whether you have this additional treatment.

Don’t let ticks ruin your walks. Simply being mindful of where they’re likely to be and knowing where to walk should help you minimise the risks.

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