Nebraska May 18, 2019
You Won’t Be Happy To Hear That Nebraska Is Experiencing A Major Surge Of Ticks This Year
As we move out of a harsh winter and through a very wet spring, many of us are anxiously awaiting the arrival of sunny summer days. But before you start spending every day outdoors, be sure to protect yourself from ticks. This year is projected to bring an especially large number of the little bloodsuckers.
Few things can make your skin crawl quite like coming indoors after a fun day and discovering a tick attached to you or your pet. It's an unpleasant feeling, but one that we're bound to experience this season as the tick population is expected to be stronger than usual.
The expected uptick in tick population is due to 2019's unusually wet winter and spring. This spring's flooding served to extend the ticks' habitats and make them habitable for longer than usual. With the moisture and warm spring weather in Nebraska, critters like the American dog tick (below) and lone star tick (next photo) are already out and looking for hosts.
Nebraska doesn't have an official tick-tracking system, so it's hard to make concrete predictions about expected tick numbers. But pest experts seem to be in agreement that this will be a particularly favorable year for ticks in the Midwest and Great Plains, and they're urging caution for anyone who will be spending time outdoors this spring, summer, and fall.
Ticks aren't just nuisances; they can carry serious diseases that may even be fatal. Protect yourself from ticks and the diseases they may carry by creating a barrier between the pests and your skin. Wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks when walking through areas with tall grass or thick vegetation.
Experts also suggest wearing insect repellents containing DEET. Wearing clothing treated with permethrin is said to be an exceptionally effective method; the chemical can kill ticks within 5 to 30 seconds of exposure.
Regardless of the precautions you take when out and about, always be sure to do a thorough tick check when you arrive home. It's recommended that you take a shower within two hours of arriving home so you can spot any ticks as soon as possible; have a family member help you look in your hair, behind ears, and along the hairline. Don't forget to check your pets, too!
If you do find a tick embedded in yourself or your pet, don't panic. Grab a pair of tweezers and use them to firmly grasp the tick's head as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight out, then either drop the tick into a small container of rubbing alcohol or use a piece of transparent tape to secure it to a piece of cardboard. Keep it around for a few days; if you start to feel ill, take the tick in to be tested when you visit your doctor.
Although ticks are expected to be out in large numbers this year, don’t let that stop you from enjoying all of the great outdoor fun Nebraska has to offer in the warmer months. Just be prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones.