Many people are surprised to learn that winter doesn’t automatically kill off the insect population. Not only are many insects (or their egg and larval forms) simply sleeping off the cold, but some become active if the weather warms up for a day or two. This is true for some of the problematic varieties of insect life.
Ticks can still be a problem in the winter
Ticks are an arachnid animal more closely related to spiders or scorpions than to insects. They live on the blood of animals. Some types have names that refer to their dependence on specific kinds of hosts, like the deer tick. The deer tick is one that is semi-active in the winter months. They live under the fur of the deer they feed on, but sometimes they drop off from the deer. If you’ve ever seen deer in your yard, then there’s a good chance that ticks have dropped off the deer and into the grass of your property. These latch onto anything that walks by. It might be a wild bird, a pet, or a family member. Ticks carry diseases like Lyme disease. This is a serious infection that often requires months of medical care for recovery. Some people never recover from the infection they experience from Lyme disease.
Protect yourself and your pets
Keep your grass cut short and rake up leaves. This reduces the habitat that encourages tick populations. Fencing your yard can prevent wildlife from visiting so that ticks don’t get a free ride onto your property. Use a DEET product to protect yourself when you go outdoors in wooded areas and elsewhere. Long, thick clothing keeps ticks from latching directly to your skin. Take the time to inspect yourself thoroughly before you return indoors. Use reliable flea and tick products on pets to protect them and your family.
Removing a tick
If you find a tick has bitten someone, remain calm. One removal method involves slathering the tick with petroleum jelly. It will release its grip on the skin and try to escape the jelly so that it can breathe. A quicker method is to grip the tick with tweezers and pull until it comes loose. Tick remover devices are available in pet stores and online. Be sure to kill the tick. Disinfect the bite area and watch it for a few days. If the victim shows signs of illness, have them see a doctor.
Why it’s important
Ticks and the diseases they transmit have become a growing health issue in the nation. Some states have had reports of Lyme disease in every county. Vaccinations can provide protection. Practicing awareness takes a little time and effort. Once a practice becomes a habit, it is much easier to maintain. When you understand that ticks can be active during the winter months, you can protect yourself, your family, and your pets.