Risks of Ticks
Ticks are bad news. Not only are they nasty parasites, they can carry and spread pathogens onto victims. Ticks are notorious vessels of dastardly diseases and are well known for transmitting both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tickborne diseases range from mild symptoms such as fever/chills, aches/pains, and rash, to severe medical emergencies that can require hospitalization. In some cases, when tickborne diseases are not attended to in a timely manner they can even cause lasting complications including, but not limited to, neurological damage and hearing loss. Unfortunately, the risks of contracting one of these diseases is steadily rising due to an increase in tick activity.
In 2019, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) issued a warning regarding a national increase in tick activity. An online research study consisting of a sample group of 274,500 Americans between January 2018 and May 2019, found that there had been an 11.4% spike in tick problems.
Ticks and Pesticide Resistance
The United State Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service opened up a Cattle Fever Tick Research Laboratory (CFTRL) in Edinburg, Texas. Lead entomologist at the CFTRL, Dr. Donald Thomas, has proven that Cattle ticks have become increasingly resistant to pesticides. With this increased resistance, their populations have grown, resulting in an influx in encounters with ticks and tick-borne diseases. “We found them on just one ranch at first and then, over the years, they spread to ranches in the next county and the next county,” Dr. Thomas explained, “today, we find about 60% of the ticks coming into the lab are resistant to pyrethroids (a type of pesticide).”
In order to figure out more about this resistance to previously very effective chemicals, the researchers at CFTRL began focusing in on the genetics of the bugs. Surprisingly, they uncovered two mutations that have been known to occur in ticks, as well as discovering a third mutation. A tick possessing one of the genetic mutations will have a ‘mild resistance’ to the pesticides, while the bloodsuckers that contain either two or three have a significantly strong resistance. This resistance as a result of the mutations can lead to a pesticide survival rate of up to 90%.
So How Do We Stay Safe?
The first step is to be aware of where you may come into contact with ticks and how to properly treat yourself and your gear (if hiking, camping, etc.) to repel the bloodsucking arachnids. While most common between April and September, tick exposure can actually occur year-round so donning tick repellant is important. When hiking or camping, avoid extremely heavily wooded areas with extensive foliage – walk in the center of trails and pitch your tent in a clearing. You can also treat your clothing and gear with permethrin products and use EPA approved insect repellants on yourself.
Also, be sure to always conduct a tick check following any exposure to places where ticks may be lurking. Look in any seams or folds of clothing, pockets, the belt region, any hats, and the lacing of your shoes. Be sure to also check under armpits and behind the knee.When you happen to be with friends and family it is extremely helpful to check one another by looking at one another’s backs, the nape of the neck and even in the hair if necessary. It can also be helpful to check yourself over once more prior to a shower when clothing is no longer in the way, and be aware of any tiny bumps that you may feel on your scalp while washing your hair as it may be an attached tick.
If you also live in a home surrounded by woods, scheduling routine Tick Control Treatments is a fantastic way to protect yourself and your family from an onslaught of potentially dangerous bites. Our Treatment includes elimination of ticks and mosquitos as well as warding off fleas. Your local technician will do a complete treatment around your home to best safeguard your family and home from those pesky vectors of disease.
Anderson, D. and Tufts, D. (2019) Why Ticks are So Hard to Kill, YouTube. Science Insider. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bEimiIZ9dA (Accessed: June 2020).
Guide to Different Tick Species and the Diseases They Carry (2019) Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tick-species/sls-20127911 (Accessed: April 2020).
New, Fast DNA Method Spots Pesticide-Resistant Ticks (2020) Entomology Today. Entomological Society of America. Available at: https://entomologytoday.org/2020/03/17/new-fast-dna-method-spots-pesticide-resistant-ticks/ (Accessed: September 2020).
Preventing Tick Bites (2019) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases and the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avois/on_people.html (Accessed: April 2020).