It’s that time of the year when ticks are out, and they can pose a big risk to your health.
Every year, the state keeps track of them and the illnesses they spread.
“It’s definitely a concern because they are so hard to see,” said Mark Knoblock, of West Haven.
Which is why he always checks for ticks.
“I absolutely find them but for every one I find, I think I’m probably missing five of them. They are so small and so sneaky,” he said.
At the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station in New Haven, they test ticks all day.
“Typically, we receive about 3,000 ticks,” said Goudarz Molaei, of the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station.
They count on the public to send them in so they can keep track of the types of ticks, and what diseases they’re carrying.
“I’ve definitely experienced multiple tick bites,” said Jake Lahiff, of Fairfield.
Experts said we’re on track for another typical tick year.
In our state, the most common are dog ticks, and deer or black-legged ticks.
“About 40 percent of black-legged ticks are infected with at least one disease agent. Lyme is the most prevalent,” Molaei said.
He said about one in three deer ticks carry Lyme disease.
Plus, they can carry anaplasmosis, babesiosis and the powassan virus, which can all make you very sick.
“I know a lot of people who suffer from Lyme disease and it’s not fun, very serious,” Knoblock said.
The Centers for Disease Control said it often takes 36 to 48 hours for them to transmit a disease, which is why it’s so important to find them right away.
“This time of the year is the peak seasonal activity for the nymph ticks, nymphs are juvenile ticks or immature ticks. They are small, the size of poppy seeds and they are extremely difficult even when you are vigilant to identify them and properly remove them,” Molaei said.
It’s not only deer that carry them.
Mice, chipmunks and other rodents will bring many ticks into your yard.
There are ways you can protect your property and your family.
Kyle Owen, a technician with the Tick Ranger, sprays people’s yards with a natural mix that kills the tiny bugs.
"The cedar oil that we use, it’s classified as an insecticidal soap and what it is, its cedar and peppermint oil and we dilute it with water. What the cedar oil does is dry the ticks out," Owen said.
The 4-step program claims to get rid of 85 percent of the ticks in your yard, and if you find one, they’ll come back out and spray again for free.
“We see a lot of success with the cedar oil that we put down,” Owen said.
It’s a layer of protection, and some peace of mind, for those who know how dangerous ticks can be.
“We are always treating the grass. I do worry about it,” said Arthur Perry, whose son was diagnosed with Lyme disease when he was younger.
“I had a long recovery stage where I had to relearn how to walk so it was traumatizing for me,” said Diante Perry.
There’s also plenty you can do yourself to protect your yard.
“Keep your grass mowed, don’t let your grass get too high. Create a barrier between the grass and the woods,” said Shawn Bosco, of Boscos Garden Center in Simsbury.
He said cedar mulch helps to keep ticks out, as well as plants like mint, lavender, and chrysanthemums.
Ticks also tend to like some bushes more than others.
“Burning bush, barberry, both invasive plants that are known to attract ticks,” Bosco said.
Experts also recommend you keep playscapes away from the edge of your yard or wooded areas, where ticks are most likely to be.
Experts discuss how you can protect yourself from ticks.
Experts say your best defense against ticks is a good offense. Taking steps to protect yourself before you get bit is the best idea.
People can use bug spray and the CDC says ones with DEET are the most effective. Clothes can be treated as well.
"There are some chemicals like permethrin that can be used on clothing that can be effective in preventing tick attachment," said Dr. David Banach, an infectious disease specialist at UConn Health.
People do have to be careful about what you use on your children.
If you'd like to go all natural, the CDC recommends rosemary, cedar, or peppermint oil. It even says you can rub the oil from the leaves of a wild tomato plant on your skin.
There are plenty of natural sprays for your pet.
"When I had a do, he would always bring them in," said Marisa Taddei.
Nothing is 100 percent effective. Doctors warn you should still check yourself as soon as you go inside.
"Being thorough head to toe is the best option," said Banach.
Banach recommends showering right away. Ticks like warm places, so make sure to check under your armpits, the back of your knees and your belly button.
Also, be alert for the symptoms because catching it quickly, especially when it comes to Lyme Disease, can make a difference.
"That's why we always tell patients if you feel like you're getting the flu and it's not flu season, it's summertime, really think about potentially ticks being involved in that type of infection," said Banach.
If you find a tick on yourself, you can send it to the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station so it can be tested.
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