Considering I have encountered ticks on more than one occasion so far this summer, I figured it would be useful to do some research on ticks and to compose an informational blog post about them. Living out in the country, the chances of encountering a tick tend to be higher because of the tall grasses in fields as well as water sources. Ponds are something farmers rely on tremendously as a source of water for irrigation, but unfortunately ponds are a notorious breeding grounds for ticks. After helping my dad hook up an irrigation pump at one of our ponds and discovering two ticks attached to my shirt, and furthermore finding one tick on each of my dogs, educating myself about these critters seemed quite worthwhile.
Blacklegged ticks (otherwise known as deer ticks) reside in woodlands, tall grasses, bushes and wet environments, and are active in Ontario, Canada. They are predominately found in regions surrounding the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. While ticks tend to be most active in the summer months, they can be active at any point throughout the year if temperatures are above zero.
While most individuals automatically associate ticks with Lyme Disease, it is essential to acknowledge that not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease. Furthermore, in order to be infected by Lyme Disease, the tick that bites you must be caring the disease itself. Being bit by a tick does not necessarily indicate the presence of Lyme Disease, but it is important to take precautions.
According to guidelines posted on Ontario.ca, the proper way to remove a tick is as follows:
- If the tick is attached to you, use fine-tipped tweezers or tick removal tool to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Do not use your fingers.
- Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly making sure to remove the entire tick (including the head). Don’t squeeze it – avoid crushing the tick’s body.
- After removing the tick, place it in a secure container, such as a screw-top bottle used for medication.
- Give the tick to your health care professional or local health unit.
- Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
- Removing a tick is the same for humans and animals.
The website also provides some ways to reduce the probability of encountering a tick, some examples being to keep grass mowed short, to wear tick-repelling insect spray, to cover exposed areas of the body with clothing when in a tick-prone area, and to wash clothes frequently.
Take caution in the summer months and always check yourself and others to prevent being bit by a tick!