Ticks are pretty horrible, as pests go. If they weren’t so wee, they’d be an easy horror movie monster--the sort of thing that could make Universal a new franchise.
Ticks are not above us on the food chain, making an excellent meal for birds and lizards and various other fauna, but they can and will feed on human blood quite happily. You can help prevent tick bites in your yard and home, and help keep your children from becoming a bug’s feast. Here’s a handy guide for waging war on the little blood-sucking arachnids.
Establish a Perimeter
Determine what you are going to claim as your tick-free zone. Accept that any enemy outside your zone is a free and clear agent of chaos, and start stripping the area of any tick-friendly locales. Piles of wood and loose leaves are like party houses for ticks. They love darkness and moisture, so sunlight is your friend in this battle. Allow as much sun exposure as possible, and keep the grass cut back.
Always wear long sleeves and pants wherever ticks may be a concern. Light or pale colored clothing (especially white) can make it easier to spot one that has made it onto your person. Tucking pants legs into socks may look weird, but it will help keep the bugs off of your skin.
Use a repellent spray on your arms, legs, and clothing. If you’re uncomfortable with DEET or other chemicals, you should know that various natural oils have been shown to help ward off ticks. Garlic, rosemary, and peppermint are just a few of the common substances whose oils repel the little beasts, but you may need to apply them more liberally and more often than store-bought bug spray.
Police Your Body
Always check your body immediately for pests upon returning home. Shower if you are concerned about ticks on your person, and wash and dry your clothes as soon as possible. Ticks can easily survive a cycle through the washing machine, but the heat of the dryer is their doom.
Enemy Through the Gates
Even with all your careful planning, ticks may find a way to get at you. If that happens, remove the tick carefully with a pair of tweezers, making sure that the head and mouth are completely removed from your skin. Clean and sterilize the bite, and allow the healing process to begin.