How to Avoid Deer Ticks

Annually, at least 30,000 Americans get Lyme disease from deer tick bites. This is how to avoid ticks and minimize your risk.

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Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease in the U.S. They estimate that up to 10 times as many cases go unreported in the same time period. Lyme disease is serious business, causing joint pain and inflammation, loss of movement in parts of the face, severe headaches, shooting pains in the limbs and occasionally heart palpitations.

What causes Lyme disease? A 3-millimeter arachnid called ixodes scapularis, also known as the deer tick, is the main carrier and spreader of Lyme disease in North America. A 2018 study discovered that of 1,633 captured ticks of various species on Long Island, N.Y., more than half the deer ticks carried Lyme disease. That’s why learning to avoid deer ticks is so important.

Know Where Ticks Live

According to the CDC, deer ticks and other tick species are most commonly found in grassy or brush covered areas and forests. So do your best to avoid areas with long grass and fallen leaves. If you’re spending time in a forest, try to keep to the paths and avoid thick brush. The CDC publishes maps showing tick hot spots in the U.S., but ticks are so ubiquitous you could be bitten nearly anywhere. Many people report it happening in their backyards. Deer ticks are generally most prevalent in the Eastern half of the country.

Check for Ticks Regularly

According to the Mayo Clinic, removing an infected tick less than 36 hours after being bitten drastically reduces your chances of getting Lyme disease. That’s why doing thorough tick checks is a must if you’ve been in a tick-infested area. Check your and your children’s clothing, hair and entire body carefully. If you find a tick, remove it with a pair of needle-tip tweezers. Carefully grip the tick’s head and pull straight up, gently and steadily, until the head and mandibles slide out of your skin.

Be sure to inspect any pets that were outside with you. They can get Lyme disease, too.

Use Tick-Repelling Products and Practices

Start by trimming back any long grass near your home and keep it short. Rake up dead leaves in your yard and burn them, if that’s allowed, or take them to a compost site. Shower as soon as possible after coming in from anywhere ticks might be.

If you live in a rural area where your pet may run loose in possible tick hot spots, consider keeping it on a leash away from these areas.

To minimize your chances of getting Lyme disease, use insect repellent containing DEET, or a product designed to kill all ticks in a certain area, such as these tick control tubes from Thermacell. You can also buy clothes specially designed to repel insects from companies such as L.L. Bean.

Steve Maxwell
Steve Maxwell is an award-winning content creator who has published more than 5,000 articles, shot countless photos and produced video since 1988. Using his experience as a carpenter, builder, stone mason and cabinetmaker, he has created content for Mother Earth News, Reader's Digest, Family Handyman, Cottage Life, Canadian Contractor, Canadian Home Workshop, and many more. Steve lives on Manitoulin Island, Canada with his wife and children in a stone house he built himself. His website gets 180,000+ views each month, his YouTube channel has 58,000+ subscribers and his weekly newsletter is received by 31,000 subscribers each Saturday morning.