Tick counts have been on the rise in Maine and along with them tick-borne disease and illnesses. To keep yourself, your family and your pets protected refer to our tick guide regularly.
There are over 15 different types of ticks present in Maine. The most common are dog and deer ticks.
- Deer Tick also called black-legged tick. The size of a deer tick will vary depending on the stage of its life cycle. An adult female has a reddish-brown body, while a male is dark brown. Deer ticks are known to cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan. These infections and diseases have potentially serious consequences if not treated immediately.
- Dog Tick also called a wood tick. Adult female and males are a dark brown color with males sometimes having spots on its back. Dog ticks are not known to transmit Lyme disease.
NOTE: Dog ticks are NOT active in October and November. Almost all ticks found at this time are deer ticks.
There are many things you can do to help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you, your family or your pets.
- Clear leaf litter away from your house.
- Move picnic tables, swing sets or play areas away from wooded areas
- Stack firewood in neat piles off the ground
- Create a 3′ barrier between yard and wooded areas using wood chips
- Keep grass cut short; don’t let long grasses or weeds grow in your yard
- Discourage wildlife (rodents, deer) from entering your property by cleaning up trash or food sources
- Keep pets away from tall grasses, wooded areas or habitats where it’s likely ticks are abundant
- Spray pets with a safe tick spray or bug repellant
- Give your pets a vaccine or tick/flea preventative medication
- Check your pets daily for signs of tick bites, attached ticks, or ticks hiding in fur. Be sure to look in/around ears, between toes and paw pads, belly and base of tail.
NOTE: If your pet has signs of fatigue, lameness, fever or lack of appetite, call your veterinarian right away.
- Use insect repellant whenever spending time outdoors
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to better see ticks
- Tuck your pant legs into your socks if walking in tall grass or wooded areas
- After being outdoors, place clothes in dryer on high heat for at least 10 mins
- A shower will rinse off any unattached ticks
- Avoid areas known to inhabit ticks
Checking yourself, your family and your pets for ticks should be done consistently, carefully and immediately after spending time outdoors, especially in areas and during times when ticks are most active.
- Run fingers through your hair, hairline and through your scalp, feeling for any bumps. Use a comb to brush through hair, looking for unattached ticks.
- Check in and around your ears and neck.
- Carefully look between fingers and toes.
- Check behind knees and underarms—these are favorites for ticks as they’re warm and secure places to hide.
- Look around belly button, between legs and on your back. Use a mirror or have someone help you.
- Scan your entire body carefully, looking for anything unusual. Ticks can often resemble freckles or moles.
If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, it’s important to remove it immediately. Tick-borne disease and infections including Lyme, are usually transmitted within 36 hours of the initial tick bite. Act fast to prevent illness.
- Using tweezers: Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull up with even and steady pressure. Try not to twist or jerk while removing a tick as this could cause material to get stuck in your skin which may increase inflammation or discomfort.
- Using a tick spoon/remover: Place the notch of the spoon tightly against skin close to the tick. Applying downward pressure, slide spoon toward tick so that it gets caught in the notch. Continue sliding the spoon against skin until tick detaches. Do not lift up spoon or try to pry away from skin.
Once tick is removed, examine the bite wound for any potential tick material left in the skin. Thoroughly cleanse skin with warm soap and water. Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.
NOTE: If you experience a rash, headaches, fever or flu-like symptoms after a recent tick bite, call your healthcare provider right away.
Lyme disease is the most reported infectious tick-borne disease in Maine. If not treated right away, there could be dangerous consequences to your health. Remember, your pets can also contract Lyme diseases and other serious infections.
- General unease
- Muscle aches and pains
- Chills, fever
If left untreated or undetected, other more serious symptoms may develop. These may include:
- Hot, swollen joints
- Shooting pain
- Paralysis on one side of face
NOTE: Most cases of Lyme disease respond very well to antibiotics especially if treated early.
It’s important to know the risk levels associated with ticks and potential tick bites. The following information can also be found on Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute webpage.
Low risk: Northern and northwestern Maine. Few ticks live in this region of the state.
Medium risk: Central and Downeast Maine. This climate is ideal for deer ticks to live.
High risk: Southern and coastal Maine. Deer ticks are established, reproducing and moving north.
Low risk: Winter from December to March ticks are less active.
Medium risk: Late summer/early fall particularly August and September.
High risk: Spring, summer and mid-fall months are when deer ticks are highly active.
Low risk: Urban areas and cities where there is little wildlife and trees.
Medium risk: Areas where there are some shrubs, leaf litter and bordering trees.
High risk: Wooded areas with active wildlife and lots of leaf litter.
Low risk: If you rarely spend time outdoors or if you only do during winter.
Medium risk: If you occasionally spend time outdoors, working or playing.
High risk: If you work and play outdoors often, especially in ticks established areas.