4 Risk Factors for Ticks

May 7th 2016

The occasional tick bite is hard to avoid, but knowing your risk factors can help you create an appropriate prevention plan. If you get a tick bite and notice a rash or flu-like symptoms shortly after, consult your doctor to rule out a tick-borne disease.

Overgrown Vegetation

Ticks have limited means of travel because they cannot jump or fly. This means they rely on vegetation to get access to their hosts. They tend to look for tall grass or leaves, which they rest on until a person or animal passes by. Meadows full of tall grass are a big risk factor, as are shrubs and even accumulations of dead vegetation, such as piles of raked leaves. A tick's inability to fly means it is typically found fairly low to the ground, rather than in trees or other very tall plants.

Exposed Skin

Ticks still climb onto people who are covered up with clothing, but they cannot bite through it. Instead, they have to crawl around until they find an opening. If your skin is exposed, their job is much easier, and they are more likely to bite you before being brushed off or knocked away. Covering the lower part of your body is especially important.

Climate and Weather

Ticks are most active during warmer months, which in most regions means April to September. However, they can be found year-round in milder climates. Ticks also prefer more damp climates. They can still be found in some deserts and drought areas, but your risk is significantly lower.

Ticks also prefer shade to sunny areas because direct sunlight is too hot and tends to dry things out. Staying in sunny areas can help you avoid ticks, but use adequate sun protection in the form of broad-brimmed hats, sunscreen and limited skin exposure.

Lack of Precautions

One of the biggest risk factors for a tick bite is neglecting to take appropriate precautions. Ticks are widespread, versatile and hard to avoid completely. Wear long pants when hiking, and consider tucking your pant legs into your socks. Insect repellent is also a good precaution. Pets can carry ticks into your home, so consult your veterinarian about appropriate tick control measures for your dogs and cats. You are likely to pick up ticks in your own yard, so keep your landscaping neat and eradicate tick habitats.

Conclusion

Ticks are small and usually harmless, but some of them can carry serious and even life-threatening diseases. These crafty insects are small and subtle enough they can usually find exposed skin and bite without the average person noticing. They are widespread and can be found in a variety of ecosystems, but there are some factors that increase your risk of a tick bite.

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