Iowans who are heading for their favorite campgrounds or into the woods for a long hike should be aware, we’re seeing a thick crop of ticks this year.
Dennis Ferraro, an extension educator, says make sure to check yourself and others for the blood-sucking parasites and if you spot one, don’t panic.
“If a tick is found on you, pick it off with a forceps,” Ferraro says. “Never use heat or a match to take it off. The tick does not have a head, it just has a mouth part that gets embedded. If you wiggle and pull that out and put some disinfectant on that point, you should be fine.”
If you’re concerned about ticks in your yard, don’t spend money on foggers as they’re mostly just for mosquitoes and other flying pests.
“There’s very little you can do in your own yard as far as putting down a pesticide or some kind of agent to repell them,” Ferraro says. “The best repellants are those that stop the ticks from getting on you.”
That means covering exposed skin. He suggests wearing socks over the pant leg and then securing them in place, or buying tick socks, which have a built-in string at the top.
Ferraro says new products are coming out that make claims for being able to better protect our pets from ticks, but he’s not convinced they work.
“We don’t see a lot of good results on the sprays that go in the kennel,” Ferraro says. “We see a lot better results on the agents that are on the dog as topical or those that are systemic which go orally into the dog or cat. Always consult your vet to get the proper doseage and the proper type of chemical.”
Ticks do care diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, but the percentages of infected ticks are very low. However, if you start feeling ill after an episode with a tick, seek medical attention.