The summer may be a time for relaxing on the beach, having family cookouts, and going to all the vacation spots you’ve been thinking of, it also the time of year where a certain little insect likes to make its annual debut: ticks.
Along with record-high temperatures expected in 2019, the CDC has predicted that this summer will be one of the worst years for the small blood-sucking insects.
Why Will This Summer Be so Bad?
There are a number of reasons why the number of ticks this summer is expected to be so high, but the main ones revolve around the lack of acorns, the mild winter, and the increase in the mouse population.
In the past couple of years, there have been far more acorns falling from trees than normal. Because of this, the mouse population has skyrocketed. And, as you may or may not know, ticks have a nasty habit of latching onto mice and travelling with them. So…wherever a lot of these mice go, the ticks breed and travel with them.
Another reason is the unnaturally mild winter that we had. While it isn’t a huge problem in the bigger picture, it created the conditions for early insect hatchings. Instead of becoming active in late May and early June, insects were starting to become active in April and early May. Because of this, more ticks have had the opportunity to hatch and grow exponentially. The combination of factors has created a golden environment for ticks to thrive, therefore requiring us to take more caution.
How to Detect Tick Bites
Knowing where you’ll probably come across a tick is half of the fight against them.
The following is the environments where ticks like to thrive and tend to be active:
- long grass
- shrubs and weed-filled gardens
- swamps or very dry plain
If you go to one of these places, which are very likely for the average person in the summer, it’s important to look and be able to identify the signs of a tick bite.
When looking for a tick, you’ll most likely notice it as a black dot in your skin (kind of like a dark, unexpected mole). Up close, it will look like a small black oval-shaped big with little legs sticking out.
NOTE: You will not see the head if a tick is latched onto you. This is because a tick burrows its head into your skin to eat.
If the tick has been there for a little while, you may notice a rash that kind of looks like a bullseye around the tick. If this is the case, you have one of the first telltale signs of Lyme disease and you should see a physician immediately.
What to Do If You’re Bit
If you do notice a tick has bit you, do not panic. The odds of it already doing damage to you are fairly low and if you notice the “bullseye” rash, odds are it hasn’t caused any serious damage yet.
To remove the tick, take a special pair of tweezers and without squeezing too tight, tug upwards and pull the tick out in one whole piece. Once it’s out, check to make sure that the head is still attached. If not, go to the hospital immediately to get it check and removed professionally (the tick’s head is the part that will infect you with Lyme disease).
Once you’ve taken it out of yourself, put it in a small cup or bag and send it to a lab to get tested for the numerous diseases ticks carry with them.
While this may all seem awfully threatening, don’t let it ruin your summer. Ticks can be extremely annoying or cause some fear in avid summer-enjoyers, but they really shouldn’t. If you do get bit, follow the tips above and get back on the grill. Have a happy summer!