Watch your ankles!
I’m most likely to transmit Lyme disease to humans as a nymph (typically late spring and early summer), and that’s mainly because I’m small and hard to spot, so people don’t have the chance to remove me before I get them sick, say researchers at the University of Rhode Island. Although I’m pretty hard to see because of my small size, the best place to look for me is your ankles—we tick nymphs don’t crawl high off the floor.
Don’t just check bare arms and legs
Since Lyme and some other diseases aren’t instantly transmitted when a tick latches on, experts say doing frequent tick checks is the most effective way to prevent illness. More tips: Wear light-colored clothing, which is easier to spot us on, keep shirts tucked in, and always wear closed-toe shoes in woodsy areas. Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening, and don’t sit directly on the ground or stone walls. Examine your clothes, gear, and pets thoroughly after spending time outdoors. And check your skin. Some of us will attach right away, but others will wander and look for places like the ear or other areas where the skin is thinner. Don’t forget about some of my sneakiest hiding spots, like under the arms, inside the belly button, and around all head and body hair. Some ticks don’t implant right away, so showering within a couple of hours of gardening or walking in the woods may remove them. It’s also a good idea to put clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes, which can destroy ticks hiding on your clothes you may have missed. These are the silent signs you could have a parasite.
I hate clean, tidy yards
Want to keep me out of your yard? Keep up with the landscaping. Ticks require a lot of humidity to survive, so we tend to stay away from well-groomed lawns that lack shade—we just can’t take the heat and will leave to seek shelter elsewhere. You’re most likely to find us near the edge of your lawn: A wood chip, tree bark, mulch, or gravel barrier between the woods and your lawn can prevent us ticks from migrating onto the lawn. Clean up piles of brush, remove weeds, mow grass regularly, and trim bushes at the edge of your property. These steps should also keep mice, which we also love to feed on, at bay. If you live in an area with lots of ticks, consider hiring someone to thin out trees to allow more sunlight in, which will lower humidity and keep us away.