Entomologists predict that we’ll have a bumper crop of dangerous insects this summer. They are referring specifically to ticks and mosquitoes. Both of these insects carry diseases that are dangerous to people.
Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks. While they are called deer ticks, they actually are carried by a number of animals, especially field mice, dogs and cats, who can then transfer the ticks to us. A tick bite looks like a red bulls eye, and usually occurs on the lower body, especially the legs. Lyme disease symptoms begin with fatigue, achy muscles and joints, headaches and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, symptoms include hearing, vision and memory problems, arthritis and numbness or tingling in your extremities.
Ticks tend to hang out in brushy and wooded areas. Many are found along borders with lawns and landscaping. When venturing into those areas, it’s recommended that you wear a long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks that are long enough to tuck your pant legs into or boots into which you can tuck your pant legs. Repellents containing DEET are also effective at keeping them away from you. Ticks can’t fly but they are great hitchhikers, and they often eat while riding.
You should check your pets when they come in from outside. If you see any ticks, remove them. Whether removing ticks from your pets or your own skin, don’t squeeze them or try to pull them off by hand. Instead, using a pair of tweezers, grip them as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly upward. Ticks pierce the skin and suck blood. Their mouth parts are barbed so they aren’t easy to pull off. Do it very slowly and carefully.
In addition to being pesky, mosquitoes carry a variety of diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus and others. If you see mosquitoes flying around or landing on you or your loved ones, dress as you would to repel ticks and use a mosquito repellent.
Mosquitoes need standing, or stagnant, water in which to lay their eggs. Remove that and you will be less likely to have a mosquito problem. Stagnant water that attracts mosquitoes ranges from ponds to low spots in your yard that hold water after a rain. Even birdbaths are fair game for breeding mosquitoes. Emptying your birdbath frequently, cleaning it and filling it with fresh water will go a long way toward reducing the mosquito population on your property.
Ticks and mosquitoes can ruin your summer, and even your life. But only if you let them. You may have to sacrifice a little comfort by wearing more clothes than you’d like but that’s a small price to pay for your life and health.