Ticks thrive in Maine’s wooded and unmaintained areas, such as high grass and leaf debris. They are particularly established in southern and coastal parts of the state. This year is an especially high-risk season but there’s no need to be afraid as long as you’re being tick smart.
Prevent ticks from reaching your backyard:
- Maintain your yard by mowing grass regularly and attending to leaves, shrubs, etc.
- Wear long-sleeved and light-colored clothing
- Use insect repellant with at least 20% Deet
- Have your pets vaccinated or medicated against ticks
- Have a professional spray a perimeter pesticide
MYTH: Ticks die every winter.
Check yourself every day for ticks that may have hitched a ride:
- Have a partner/parent help to check areas you can’t easily see
- Check between toes, hands, underarms, behind the knees, around and in ears and hair
- Shower after being outside—this helps wash off any ticks
- Don’t re-wear outdoor clothes; tumble dry on high to kill ticks trapped in clothing
MYTH: Every type of tick carries disease.
If you see a tick attached to your skin, remove it immediately. It takes 36 hours for bacteria to leave the tick and be injected into your body.
- With tweezers: pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t jerk or twist—this may cause tick material to stay in your skin.
- With a tick spoon: apply slight downward pressure to skin and push forward under the tick’s body.
- Do not crush the tick with your fingers! Put in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.
- Wash your hands immediately and soak tweezers in alcohol, if needed.
MYTH: You’ll know if you get a tick bite.
If you were recently bitten by a tick and removal was successful, it’s still important to check your skin. If you have a rash, headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, call your primary care provider right away.