Pascual Hernandez
Pascual Hernandez

With the recent moisture and hot temperatures, we expect pest activity to increase soon. There are many pests which are troublesome to animals and people. A particularly troublesome one is the tick.

Ticks are harmful to livestock and wildlife due to the blood loss that can occur when a large number of ticks feed. They are also serious vectors of human and animal disease agents. Ticks are known to transmit numerous protozoans, viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens.

Ticks have four stages of their life cycle: egg, larvae, nymph and adult. All stages are exclusively parasitic. But did you know that ticks can survive over than a year without feeding?

Ticks find their victims by sitting on the edges of grass and shrubbery and climbing on passing people or animals. Brushy areas are the best places for ticks.

Historically the way to control ticks and their diseases was to use acaricides (pesticides). Acaricide choices are mostly limited to pyrethroids, carbaryl and avermectins. Dipping vats have been an effective way to treat cattle by making them walk through the acaricide baths, but recent years have shown a decrease in this method except along the border for cattle fever ticks. Dust rubs as well as applying liquid products with a high-pressure sprayer or pour-ons are other options. However, many ticks are becoming resistant to the commonly used pesticides.

People can protect themselves and make it harder for ticks to enter clothing by tucking shirttails inside pants and wearing long pants and shirts. Tucking pants legs inside our socks is also effective. Also, avoid sitting on the ground or on logs in brushy, tick-infested areas.

Early removal of attached ticks is important in lessening the risk of contracting diseases carried by ticks. To remove a tick, grasp it as close to the head as possible with tweezers. Remove it with a firm, slow pull without twisting. Do not pop it or crush it with your bare hands. Apply an antiseptic to the skin after removing the tick. Hot matches, grease and other substances will not cause them to let go and may actually increase the risk of infection.

Around the home, keep tall grass and weeds cut. When treating yards, spray the siding of the house, fences, trees and other hiding places as well as the lawn. When using pesticides, follow label directions carefully and do not apply more than is recommended. Tick insecticides can be dangerous to pets and children if misapplied.

For more information contact the County Extension Office at 387-3101.