Now that summer is FINALLY here to stay, don’t forget to apply your insect repellent before heading outside.
Now through mid-July is highest risk period for Lyme, other diseases carried by Minnesota ticks.According to the Minnesota Department Of Health (MDH) Tickborne Diseases webpage:
Most tick bites do not result in disease, but it is a good idea to recognize and watch for the early symptoms of the more commonly encountered tickborne diseases in Minnesota.
Health officials warn that blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) like to hang out in many of the same places as Minnesotans this time of year. Using insect repellent and taking other precautions can help reduce your risk of getting one or more of several serious diseases carried by ticks. ~ MDH
There are a couple of tick varieties here in Minnesota:
The blacklegged tick can spread Lyme disease (the most common), as well as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Powassan disease. In 2014, 896 Lyme disease cases were reported in the state, along with 448 human anaplasmosis cases and 49 babesiosis cases.
American dog ticks (“wood ticks”), which are very common in spring and early summer throughout wooded or grassy areas of Minnesota, can also carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). While RMSF is most common in the southern United States, a small number of RMSF cases have occurred in Minnesotans who did not travel outside the state.
The MDH cautions us to perform daily tick checks and follow these best practices for avoidance:
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES
Know when you are in tick habitat; this is when it is most important to take precautions:
- Wooded or brushy areas for the blacklegged tick.
- Grassy or wooded areas for the American dog tick.
If you spend time outdoors in tick habitat, use repellent to lower the risk of disease:
- DEET-based repellents (up to 30 percent DEET) can be applied to clothing or skin.
- Pre-treating fabric with permethrin-based repellents can protect against tick bites for at least two weeks without reapplication. This is an excellent option for people who frequently venture into wooded areas.
Safe Tick Removal:
- Prompt tick removal is important.
- If possible, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick by the head.
- Grasp the tick close to the skin. Pull the tick outward slowly, gently, and steadily.
- Use an antiseptic on the bite.
- Avoid folk remedies like Vaseline®, nail polish remover or burning matches – they are not a safe or effective way to remove ticks.
Watch this 1 minute video showing you how to remove a tick…
People who spend time at cabins on heavily wooded property often encounter ticks and should consider managing their landscape to reduce their risk. Consider the following strategies:
- Keep lawns and trails mowed short.
- Remove leaves and brush.
- Create a landscape barrier of wood chips or rocks between mowed lawns and woods.
- Apply pesticide treatments in the spring or early summer along the edges of wooded yards and trails; follow pesticide label instructions carefully.
Here are some things you can do to help control mosquitoes in your community.
- Empty water from buckets, tarps, toys, cemetery urns, water troughs, or other containers.
- Get rid of old tires.
- Change water every other day in birdbaths, fountains, rain barrels, and potted plant trays.
- Drain or fill puddles and low spots with dirt or landscape to reduce standing water.
- Treat and clean swimming pools and keep them circulating.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if you must be in areas with lots of mosquitoes.
- Make sure windows and door screens are “bug tight.”
- Turn off lights that attract mosquitoes.
- Replace outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights”.
- Get rid of old cans, containers, pots or other water-holding containers on your property.
- Drill holes in the bottom of containers that must be left outdoors, such as garbage cans.
- Check your roof gutters and adjust to eliminate standing water.
- Seal cisterns, septic tanks and fire barrels.
- Turn over children’s wading pools when not in use.
- Turn over wheelbarrows, or keep them where they will not collect water.
- Fix leaky taps, faucets and sprinklers.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish (South Dakota native fathead or killifish minnows).
- Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water.
- Keep weeds and tall grass cut short; adult mosquitoes look for these shady places to rest during the hot daylight hours.
- Use a flyswatter or household spray to kill mosquitoes inside buildings.
- Limit time outdoors from dusk to midnight when Culex mosquitoes are most active.
- Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 when necessary, following label directions and precautions carefully.
- Some communities use chemicals to kill mosquito larvae and occasionally spray or fog to kill adult mosquito. If you have any questions, call your local mosquito control person.
Have a safe and happy summer!
‘Connecting Rural Minnesota’