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Extension advice: Follow tips to keep ticks off family, pets this summer
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

I used to have a dog named Tipsy. She was a German shepherd and lab mix. Black with little white tips on her paws and tail held together by a strong frame between a pointed nose and floppy Labrador ears that would stand up when she was interested in something.

Tipsy went everywhere with us. My brothers and I would take adventures in the woods around my house and neighborhood and she was always right there by our side. If you wanted Tipsy to come, just give her a quick call or whistle and she would be there. She really was a great dog. I’m sure many of you have or had a dog like Tipsy.

One of the things I remember about having dogs was the ticks that attacked them in the summer. These large grey-brown bloated pests made quite an impression on me. I remember being angry that those nasty ticks were biting my dog and I wanted to keep them off her. Here is some information I gleaned from my studies at UGA from entomologists Elmer Grey and Nancy Hinkle. This may help you protect yourself and your family from ticks.

The youngest ticks or larvae are called “seed ticks.” They have six legs and are so small that they can be mistaken for a piece of dirt or a freckle.

Ticks typically hang off the edge of grass blades or tall brush with their legs pointed up in a behavior known as questing.

They feed, drop off (depending on the species), then shed their skin and turn to an eight-legged nymph. The nymph repeats the cycle and turns into an adult tick. Adult ticks fall off the host and the male dies. Females return to a host for one more blood meal before they drop off to lay between 2,000 and 18,000 eggs in the leaf litter. Then the females also die. No wonder there are so many ticks! This cycle can take up to three years, depending on conditions, the ticks’ food supply and the type of tick. Since these ticks can wait a while for a blood meal, some pets and owners may unwittingly wander into places where ticks are just waiting for something to feed on.

Ticks like brushy areas but can also be a problem in lawns and gardens. Landscapes with pets are especially susceptible. Low areas may have more of these little bloodsuckers than upland locations.

Keep grass and brush cut short so the ticks have no place to hide. This also exposes ticks to sunlight, which may kill them.

Keep ticks off of you by using these tips:

• Wear light-colored clothing. Ticks latch on and move upward toward dark and moist areas, such as the waistline and knee. Keep your pant legs tucked into your socks and your shirt tucked into your pants. This will slow the tick’s progress to your skin and make them more visible as they crawl upward. Some people tape their socks to their pants.

• Wear a repellent containing DEET on your skin. Use higher concentrations in more heavily infested areas. Permanone can be sprayed on just your clothing. It repels and kills ticks. Especially put repellents on your feet, legs and waistline.

• Check yourself twice a day for ticks. Especially look at places where your clothes are tight — cuff of trousers if socks are tucked in and the waist or belt line. The sooner ticks are removed, the less likely they are to transmit disease.

• Treat your pet regularly for ticks. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. Pets can be reservoirs for ticks and the diseases they carry.

You cannot kill every tick outside, but some people want to reduce tick levels in their yard.

Pesticides are not always the best way to control ticks, but they can help. You must treat all areas at the same time for best control. Treat the yard, wash or dispose of and treat pet bedding and treat pets when you spray.

Lawns can be sprayed with permethrin, diazinon, malathion, cyfluthrin or other labeled pesticides. You will probably need to retreat as soon as the chemical allows you to. Read and follow all label directions.

Ticks can be pesky and a health hazard for you, your family and your pets. Some ticks vector diseases including Lyme disease. Arm yourself with information. Stop ticks before they get started around your home.

You can call your local extension office at 912-653-2231 for more information on ticks or questions about what type of tick you might be dealing with. Send pictures to if you would like any insect or pest identified.

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