Tiny Creatures, BIG Trouble: A Cape Cod Tick Protection Guide

Ticks on Cape Cod are nasty little creatures that survive by feeding on the blood of people, birds, animals – any mammal they can find to use as a host.

To find their hosts, ticks detect animals’ breath and body odors, sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations.

They use their claws to dig under the skin and release a chemical from their mouths to keep the host from knowing it is there.

Tick species are found all over the world, but tend to flourish in countries with warm and humid climates.

Ticks are incapable of flying or jumping. Instead, they latch onto leaves and grass before climbing onto the mammal.

What is the most common type of ticks here on the Cape & Islands?

The American Dog Tick is the largest of the eastern wood ticks, and the most common seen. This specific tick is about an eighth of an inch long with a reddish-brown color and some lighter marks. Deer ticks are extremely common now too, and infamous for carrying Lyme disease

Why are they a threat over any other bug?

The biggest threat ticks pose is their ability to transmit diseases. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, relapsing fever, and tularemia, just to name a few. A recent news story on CapeCod.com warned us too of a new tick-borne illness. Unfortunately, it is not possible just by looking at a tick to determine if it carries pathogens.

How do I remove a tick?

The best way to remove a tick is with tweezers. It is crucial to detach all parts of the tick by getting as close to the skin as possible. Leaving behind mouthparts or provoking regurgitation of infective fluids to the wound can be problematic. It is important to disinfect the bite area thoroughly after removal with an antibiotic cream.

Here is an instructive how-to video:

Ticks are difficult to injure or kill, so common methods of disposal include flushing them down a toilet or burning them with a match. You can also store the tick to show a clinician for identification purposes.

How do I avoid tick bites?

There are a few ways to decrease chances of tick bites. Avoid grassy areas and woods. Try wearing light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily spotted. Tucking pants into boots or socks protects your skin from being subject to ticks directly. Insect repellent, specifically from brands that are designed to repel ticks are highly recommended. Lastly, thoroughly check yourself and pets if there has been exposure to areas where ticks are found.

Are my Pets at risk?

Pets are major targets to ticks too. Pets are physically lower to the ground and fond of wrestling around in grassy areas, so they are very prone to ticks. Frequently check behind the ears, under legs and limbs, and around the neck area of your pet for ticks. Flea and tick repellents are very important to apply to dogs on a routine basis. Thousands of dogs become infected with serious diseases transmitted by ticks each year. Annual checkups and topical medications help keep your dog tick-free. To remove ticks, use the same method as you would for a human. Tweezers are the best mode of extraction.

Stay healthy by avoiding ticks as much as possible and educating yourself about diseases and preventative ways.

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