Discover nature this week with ticks in Missouri. Ticks have been a part of the outdoors for as long as there have been people to complain about them.
Ticks are small, blood-sucking parasites related to spiders and mites. They’re often found in great numbers in areas where animals are abundant. Ticks will be active in these areas from April through September.
At least six different human tick-borne diseases have been reported in Missouri: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Q-fever, Lyme or a Lyme-like disease, and the southern tick-associated rash illness. And while you can’t avoid ticks entirely, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure to ticks.
First, avoid tick infested areas whenever possible. Second, wear clothes that make it hard for ticks to get to your skin. Boots can keep them away from your feet. Clothing that fits tightly around your ankles and wrists is helpful. And finally, apply repellents to your skin and clothing. Socks and pant legs are important places to treat.
After you return from the outdoors, make a habit of inspecting your body for ticks. Do this as soon as possible, by checking your head and neck very carefully. The sooner you find a feeding tick, the better. There is less chance for infection or disease when you remove a tick promptly. Remove ticks with tweezers grabbing it as near the head as possible.
Whether you’re headed out mushroom hunting or just for a spring hike, be sure to take extra caution so you can minimize encounters with these unwelcome summer pests.
More information about ticks in Missouri can be found online at MissouriConservation.org.