Hey Liberty County! I hope y’all are enjoying some of this warm weather happening right now. I wanted to make sure as we are all relaxing outside that we also are aware of some of the critters that we may encounter. This series will focus on Ticks, Fleas, and Mosquitos. The first of these blood suckers is the Tick. We have had a muggy warm winter and spring. Due to our climate down here, with the high humidity and all the wooded areas/fields, ticks thrive and can have faster life cycles meaning more of them boogers having a chance to get on you or your favorite furry friend. I wanted to give y’all some information on ticks and how to take steps to make sure you do not get an unwanted tag along.
When I say ticks that encompasses 22 native species to Georgia alone. 22! That is a lot of bloodsuckers to talk about. The main ones I want to discuss are the three we battle the most around here: the Lone Star Tick, the American Dog Tick, and the Black-legged Tick. Now how do we know the difference? The Lone Star Tick has a very long mouth part. Female Lone Stars have a single white spot on their back and the males have white markings spread out on their backs. These are most common in bushy and brushy areas where there are deer around. For some of us that is our backyards. Common hosts of this tick are livestock, dogs, deer, and humans as well as birds and rodents. The American Dog Tick is similar in appearance to the Lone Star except both females and males have spread out white markings. They also have a shorter mouth part than the Lone Star species. If the name did not give it away the American Dog Tick’s preferred target is a dog, but that does not mean it is exclusively only found on dogs. They also feed on a number of other large animals and humans as well. Lastly the Black-legged Tick, is the smallest of the three species and has no white markings at all. It is commonly found on white-tailed deer, dogs, birds, humans, and other large mammals.
Now that the species have been covered, I want to address the disease part. Ticks in Georgia are known to carry diseases. Amongst these are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, Tularemia, and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. This does not happen every time a tick bites you, so do not be paranoid. The CDC reported 47,743 cases of tick related diseases in 2018. Now that may seem like a lot, but in reality that is only 0.014% of the population will get a tick bite that may lead to some infection. Where much infections occur is not when the tick is latched on necessarily. It can also occur when you pinch a tick off. A tick’s mouth part can actually break off when you pull a tick off of you or an animal. SO DO NOT JUST PULL. This can end up causing welts on the skin due to a reaction with the saliva from the tick’s mouth. So if you can’t pull them how the heck do I remove them? That is an easy answer… you pull them, but carefully. The recommended way to remove an embedded tick is to use forceps, cloth or paper towel wrapped around the tick as near to the point of attachment as possible. Use a firm pull, DO NOT jerk or twist because that may break off the mouth parts. Do not use unprotected fingers. Apply a disinfectant to the site immediately and then wash your hands with hot soapy water.
Knowing how to handle if you have a tick is critical. Prevention is also as critical to understand. Easy ways to prevent ticks include: wear long pants, layer your clothes, tick repellant containing “DEET”, and make sure to check you and your pets after walks outside. They can be on trees and fall on you. Now I want to address the long pants thing… it is hotter than the sun down here in the summer. That being said they do have wind pants and pants out of a light weight material that is not extremely warm and is quite breathable. If you need outside control around your house, keeping the grass cut short, fence in the yard to keep other animals from bringing them in, and use approved pesticides on your pet and around the outside of your house. For pesticide recommendations please give me a call or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or want further information, please give me a call at or stop by the Liberty County Extension Office, (912)876-2133, 100 Main St. Suite 1200, Hinesville, GA 31313.