When is tick season in North Carolina?
If you live in NC and you spend any amount of time outside or in wooded areas, this question is on your mind come spring time. As temperatures rise, North Carolinians know that it is only a matter of time before tick-checks become a part of the daily routine once again. Unfortunately for NC residents, ticks can be found in the forests and woods of our state all year round. However, people are more likely to be bitten from late spring to early fall, roughly the months of April through late September. This typically coincides with the months of warmer temperatures that people are more likely to spend outside, in areas where ticks are prevalent.
What is the most common tick in NC?
Curious which type of tick is responsible for most of the tick bites that NC residents suffer every year? Since 1980 the most common tick in North Carolina is the Lone Star tick, according to the Tic-borne Infections Council of North Carolina. That means that if you do happen to spot a tick on you or a friend, it is likely a Lone Star tick. The females of this species are easily identified by white spot on their backs (hence their name). However, male Lone Star ticks lack this signature spot, and are much harder to identify. Check out this image of a female Lone Star tick with her signature spot:
Deer ticks are also common along the coast of NC, though less common in the piedmont, the Lone Star is still the most common species of tick, ahead of the dog tick and wood tick. Most people, however, do not want to get close enough to a tick to find out which species it is! Therefore, let’s answer the following common question.
What is the best way to prevent ticks?
Although it is impossible to 100% guarantee that you can be protected from ticks while exploring the great outdoors, there are come prevention strategies you can use to avoid a tick bite. Thanks to John Hopkins Hospital for assembling parts of the following list of tip prevention tips!
1. Make the area around your house a “tick-free zone”
What is the best way to keep ticks from getting close to your house? One easy way is to keep your lawn well manicured. Ticks love long, shaggy grass and plants. If you mow your lawn regularly and keep the grass level low, this will decrease the chances of having ticks make their home in your lawn. Keeping a strip of mulch or rocks between your lawn and your house is another way to prevent ticks from making their way into your home.
2. Going for a hike, or exploring in the woods? Stay on the path!
As mentioned above, ticks love long grasses, wild-growing bushes, leafy undergrowth, and bushes. On most well-maintained hiking trails or paths, all of those are absent. As soon as you venture off the beaten path though, fun as it may be, you are putting yourself at higher risk of becoming tick food. Avoid tall grass and brush to keep from running into ticks.
3. Wear protective clothing when outdoors
Long, light pants and shirts are best for tick protection when hiking. The long sleeves and pant legs will mean less skin contact with grass or bushes where ticks might be hiding, and will give you extra protection. In addition, you can use bug spray when you hike for an added layer of defense against ticks that find their way onto your legs or arms. Make sure when choosing a bug spray that you note which insects it protects against and that you use an EPA-registered product for safety. Consider showering after your time outdoors to remove the spray and possibly wash off any ticks that found their way onto you.
What if you take all these prevention precautions and a tick still falls from a tree and lands on you? Now what?? Not to worry, we’ve got some tips on tick removal.
What is the best way to remove a tick?
If you perform a tick check after some time outside and do find a tick on your body, not to worry. The best way to remove a tick is with a pair of tweezers. Do not use your fingers, and do not twist or turn the body. You should also avoid using fire or trying to burn the tick, as this can potentially cause the tick to regurgitate infected materials back into the wound it created. Use the tweezers to grasp the tick between the head of the tick and your skin. Try to grasp it as close to your skin as possible. Then, pull the tick straight out with an even amount of pressure. The tick should relent and let you pull it out, in which case you can apply alcohol to the wound and your tweezers. If you want to be extra careful, save the tick on a piece of tape, and write down the time of the bite and the location. Should anything happen and you develop symptoms of a tick-borne illness, this information could help with diagnosis.
Don’t let ticks keep you from getting outdoors in NC!
Although none of us like dealing with ticks, they are no reason to stay inside during the most beautiful months of the year here in North Carolina! If you have any questions about ticks in our state, or if you have a pest control problem at your property, call our team at (888) MRCLEGG. Speak to one of our pest control pros about scheduling your FREE General Pest Control Inspection. We even offer Prompt and Efficient Service to most customers in North Carolina! Give us a call and let us get to work for you today.