Why are ticks on the rise in Ontario?
Several factors contribute to the rising tick population in Ontario. Changes in climate patterns, such as warmer winters and longer summer seasons, provide a more hospitable environment for ticks to thrive. Moreover, increased urbanization and changes in land use are encroaching on tick habitats, pushing them closer to residential areas.
When are ticks most active?
Ticks are most active from early spring to late fall, especially during warmer, humid days. However, they can still be active whenever temperatures are above freezing, which includes unseasonably warm winter days.
Where do ticks live and breed?
Ticks inhabit a wide range of environments, but they are particularly prevalent in wooded areas, tall grasses, brush, and leaf piles. They breed in these environments, laying their eggs in the soil during the spring, which hatch into larvae in the summer.
Which ticks are most common in Ontario?
The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is the most common tick species in Ontario. This species is of particular concern because it’s the primary carrier of Lyme disease.
How to identify a tick
Ticks are small, ranging from the size of a poppy seed to a sesame seed. They have eight legs and a round body that becomes larger and darker as they feed. The black-legged tick, specifically, has a dark, oval-shaped body with dark legs.
How to Check for Ticks
Undress and Examine Clothes:
After returning indoors, undress and shake out your clothes to dislodge any ticks. Better yet, if possible, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be hiding in the fabric.
Full Body Check:
Conduct a full-body check using a hand-held or full-length mirror. Ticks can attach anywhere on your body but are often found in hard-to-see places. Be sure to check these areas thoroughly:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
Showering within two hours of coming indoors can help wash off unattached ticks and offers a good opportunity to conduct a tick check.
Check Gear and Pets:
Ticks can ride into the home on clothing, gear, and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
How to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease?
Prevention is key in protecting yourself from tick bites and Lyme disease. When spending time in areas where ticks may live, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, tuck your pants into your socks, and use an insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin. After outdoor activities, conduct full-body tick checks on yourself, your children, and your pets.
What to do when you spot a tick and how to remove it
If you find a tick on your body, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible to decrease the chance of disease transmission. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure and avoid twisting or jerking the tick as this can cause parts to break off and remain in the skin. Once removed, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and water.
Lyme disease symptoms and when to see a doctor
Lyme disease symptoms can appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a tick bite, often starting with a characteristic skin rash that looks like a bull’s-eye; but that’s not always the case. Be sure to check out for other symptoms which may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. If you experience these symptoms or if a tick has been attached for 24 hours or more, contact a healthcare professional immediately.
Who is most at risk of tick bites (pets, kids, adults)?
Anyone who spends time in tick-infested environments is at risk for tick bites. However, pets, outdoor workers, and people engaging in outdoor activities like hiking and camping may have a higher risk. Children can also be at risk due to their play habits.
To help manage and reduce tick populations in your area, consider professional tick control services. Mosquito Mom, serving the Clarington Region, offers eco-friendly pest control options that can help protect your family and pets from ticks and the diseases they carry. With a combination of knowledge, vigilance, and proactive prevention, we can all enjoy the outdoors while keeping ticks at bay.