Pennsylvania was the fourth highest state for Lyme disease rates at 79.7 per 100,000 people in 2018. Ticks cause a variety of other diseases in Pennsylvania, including spotted fever rickettsiosis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis.
Using tick bite prevention strategies can help you avoid becoming part of the statistics. Not only do you want to learn the best way to prevent tick bites on yourself, but you might also need to learn how to prevent tick bites on dogs if you have furry family members.
Keep reading to learn how to prevent deer tick bites and other types of tick bites in Pennsylvania.
1. Clean Up Your Lawn
Ticks like to hide in brush, tall grass, and other natural areas that provide shelter. Keep your lawn mowed regularly to reduce the cover they have, and rake up leaves and other debris regularly. Clear out brush and weeds around your property to keep them as far away from your yard as possible.
If you live near a wooded area, creating a barrier along your property line can prevent some ticks from entering your yard from those spaces. Wood chips or gravel in a 3-foot-wide swath around your property is effective. Fences around your property can keep out animals, which can carry ticks into your yard.
Set up your yard to keep play areas and entertaining spaces away from the perimeter of your property and trees, where ticks can live.
2. Treat Your Lawn
Treating your lawn with pesticides can also repel ticks from the area. This treatment can make your yard safer to spend time in year-round. Check with a local pest control company for the best options that are also safe for your family and pets.
3. Apply Personal Insect Repellent
Insect repellents with DEET can help keep ticks away from you when you spend time outdoors. You can also find natural tick repellent sprays if you want to avoid chemicals. Apply the tick repellent on all exposed skin and on your clothing, reapplying as needed based on how long you spend outdoors and the instructions for the insect repellent.
4. Treat Outdoor Gear
If you’re hiking or camping, treat your outdoor gear as well to repel ticks even more. Permethrin is often used to treat clothing, tents, backpacks, and other outdoor gear.
Always follow the precautions and directions on tick repellent products designed for gear. They’re often not meant to be used directly on skin. You might need to let the spray dry for a certain length of time before using the gear, and it may need to be reapplied after a certain amount of time.
5. Cover Up
Covering up as much of your body as possible makes it more difficult for ticks to bite you and attach to your skin. Start with long sleeves, long pants, socks, and close-toed shoes if the weather allows. Tucking your pant legs into your socks may not make a fashion statement, but it makes it even more difficult for ticks to find a way onto your skin.
In the summer, you likely won’t want to wear long sleeves and long pants. Cover as much as you can with light clothing. Not only will the lighter color keep you cooler, but it also makes it easier to spot ticks on your clothes.
Wearing a hat can also be helpful. It can be difficult to see ticks if they get into your hair, so limiting access with a hat can help.
6. Avoid Brush
When you go out in natural areas, stick to trails to avoid brush, weeds, and grass that can be home to ticks. Sticking to the center of the trails is best when possible. Keep your pets on a leash to keep them from running into weedy, bushy areas.
7. Use Tick Treatments on Pets
When figuring out how to prevent tick bites on dogs, one of the most effective ways is to use a flea and tick treatment on your pet. Tick treatments come in gels that go onto your dog’s skin and repellent collars. Discuss the options with your vet to find the best tick treatment for your pet.
It’s a good idea to treat pets for ticks and fleas year-round. Even though ticks are generally not active in the winter in Pennsylvania, continue the treatment so your pet stays protected in early spring and late fall.
8. Be Aware Beyond Summer
Ticks might be one of the common summer pests, but they’re active beyond the summer months. They typically go into hiding when the temperatures drop below freezing.
That means ticks can come out early in the spring and stick around late into the fall months, especially in years with mild winters. Continue your tick bite prevention methods throughout the year when temperatures are above freezing.
9. Check After Being Outside
As soon as you’re done outside, check your body for ticks. Even better, have someone else look for you, especially in the difficult-to-see areas. Common spots for ticks include your hair, ears, armpits, waistline, groin, and behind your knees, so look in all of the nooks and crannies.
If you take your pets outdoors with you, check their fur carefully to look for ticks.
Showering within 2 hours of being outdoors can help wash away ticks that haven’t bitten you yet. Do another check of those key areas while you shower.
Don’t forget to check any outdoor gear for ticks, especially if you bring them indoors. You can toss your clothes and fabric gear into the dryer for 10 minutes with high heat to kill any remaining ticks.
If you spot a tick, you can send it to the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania for free testing. This can help determine the tick species and other important information that can help your doctor decide if you need treatment.
Removing ticks before they bite you can prevent any tickborne illnesses. It can be difficult to prevent Lyme disease after a tick bite if the tick is carrying the disease. However, doctors can administer antibiotics in the early stages to keep more severe symptoms from happening.
Practice Tick Bite Prevention
Tick bite prevention strategies can let you enjoy the great Pennsylvania outdoors without getting tick bites. Learn how to prevent tick bites before you head outdoors to avoid Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses.
If you’re concerned about ticks or other pests in your yard, contact us now for information on our pest control options.