Prepare for Tick Season in Virginia

dangerous ticksTick-borne illnesses are growing issues around the country, and in Virginia. With the warmer weather, it is important to be ready for the tick season. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from ticks and the complications that they can cause you and your pets. Learn more about tick season and how to prepare for it.

When Is It

Tics are the most active between April and September in Virginia. In the spring, you will need to worry more about the tick larvae or seed ticks. These ticks are smaller and can be more difficult to spot.  They only have six legs instead of eight. However, they can still spread a number of illnesses. Ticks need a blood meal through each of their phases and each time they molt. Female ticks need a blood meal to lay eggs. This means that ticks are actively biting throughout the season.

Types of Ticks

There are three ticks in Northern Virginia that you need to be aware of. The Lone Star tick has a white dot on its back when it is an adult. This tick will spread STARI, tularemia and can cause people to develop an allergy to one of the proteins in meat. The blacklegged tick has black legs. The ticks themselves can be black or black and brown. This tick will spread Lyme disease, and Powassan disease. The American dog tick is brown, and it has a patterned shell. It can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.

Dangers of Ticks

The main danger of ticks is that they spread a number of illnesses that can be life threatening. Most of the illnesses will start with a fever and body aches along with a possible headache. It may feel like a bad cold or the flu, but there will not a lot of improvement. A rash may develop a few days after the fever. If this happens you should seek medical attention. Your doctor can run a test to see if you have a tick-borne illness and then prescribe antibiotics to help you to recover from the illness. The complication from the allergy to meat will require a change in diet. If not treated, Lyme disease can turn into a chronic condition.

Preventing Ticks

There are steps that you can take to prevent yourself from being bitten by ticks. One is to treat your yard for ticks. This will prevent your family and pets from being bitten while you are outside in your backyard. Applying insect repellent with DEET when you are going into areas that are prone to tick offers another layer of protection. Be sure to check your clothing as soon as you get home. You should also check yourself and your pets on a regular basis for ticks and remove them if you find them.


What Do I Do If I Have a Tick on Me?

tick-removalTicks are so small and their initial bites do not hurt, so it can be hard to tell if you have tick. It is important to complete a tick check on a regular basis. The chances of catching a tick-borne disease increase the longer the tick is embedded in you. It is important to act quickly when you suspect that you may have a tick on you.

Check for Ticks

It is important to perform a thorough check after you are in an area where there is an increased chance of getting ticks. First, you should check your clothes as soon as you get home, since the ticks may be crawling on you looking for a place to attach. You will need to check around your waist, at the back of your knees, underneath your arms, and between your legs. You should have someone check your hairline for you.

Removing a Tick

If you find a tick, you will need to remove it as quickly as possible. It is important to remove the entire tick, because if you leave part of it embedded it can cause an infection that is different from the other tick-borne illnesses. The easiest method is to use a tick key, which you lay flat against your skin and then pull it across the area where the tick is, it naturally lifts the tick out. You can find these at outdoor supply stores. If you do not have a tick key, you will need to follow these steps.

  1. Grasp the tick firmly with a pair of tweezers. Be sure to grab as much of the body as possible.
  2. Pull back firmly and slowly, so that the tick detaches. Be sure not to twist or to pull up as this can leave the head embedded in your skin.
  3. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Put the tick on a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol on it and seal it in a zipper bag.

There are old wife’s tales that instruct you to remove the tick by putting petroleum jelly or gasoline on the tick to make it detach. This may make the tick regurgitate into you which can increase the chances of infection. There is also the advice to burn the tick with the end of a match, which can cause the same issue. If you cannot remove the tick on your own, you should see a doctor.

Watch for Signs of Tick-Borne Illness

Many tick-borne illnesses will start with a fever accompanied by aches and pains. Some will then cause you to develop a rash. If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical treatment and let the doctor know that you were recently bitten by a tick. There are blood tests that doctor can do to confirm if you have the disease and most require treatment with antibiotics to clear them.

Most Dangerous Ticks in the United States

dangerous ticksTicks are parasitic insects that need to feed on blood to survive. Since they feed on blood they can become infected with certain diseases that they then spread to other animals or to people. Different types of ticks spread different disease. There are about eight species of ticks in the United States. Fortunately, only about seven of those are actually dangerous to people.

American Dog Tick

The American Dog tick can be found in the Eastern United States and along the cost of California. According to the article What Tick Are Most Dangerous in North Carolina, the American Dog tick carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.

Lone Star Tick

The Lone Star tick can be found in the eastern United States and into the Midwest. The Lone Star tick will carry the Heartland virus, tularemia, and STARI. It can also cause meat allergies to develop in people who are bitten by it.

Western Blacklegged Tick

The Western Blacklegged tick is found along the western coast and in parts of Utah. It has been known to spread anaplasmosis and Lyme disease in these areas.

Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog tick is located throughout the United States. It is a known carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, though most of the cases attributed to it are found in the southwestern United States.

Blacklegged Tick

The Blacklegged tick can be found in the east, in the states around the gulf coast and in the states around the Great lakes. It carries a number of disease including Powassan disease, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis.

Gulf Coast Tick

The Gulf Coast tick is located in the states around the Gulf coast and along the coast of the southeastern states. It can also be found in Arkansas and bards of Oklahoma.  It transmits a form of spotted fever call rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis.

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick

The Rocky Mountain Wood tick is found in the states that have the Rocky Mountains in them. It can also be found in southwestern Canada. This tick can spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and tularemia.

Protecting Yourself from Ticks

Once you understand just how prevalent ticks are throughout the United States, you can begin to see why it is important to protect yourself from ticks. Insect spray with DEET in it has proven the most effective at stopping ticks from biting while you are enjoying time outdoors. Wearing long sleeves and long pants can also help since it makes it harder for a tick to attach when it first crawls on you. If you are in an area that is heavily populated with ticks, you should tuck your pants into your socks, and tuck your shirt into your pants. Be sure to change when you arrive home.

Checking for ticks on a regular basis is also important. If the tick’s saliva gets into your skin and it is infected, then you will become infected. The chance of this happening increases the longer they are attached. If you can remove the ticks safely as quickly as possible, you lessen the chance of catching a disease.

There is also the option of treating your yard for ticks. Ticks are found outside of heavily wooded areas. If you are worried about ticks, then you should contact an exterminator to learn more about this option. This treatment will also help with fleas and mosquitoes.

How Can I Prevent Mosquitoes?

mosquitoMosquitoes are an annoying pest that can spread diseases like the Zika virus, West Nile virus and malaria. Even if you do not catch anything from a bit, the itchiness can be annoying. Mosquitoes are prolific breeders and manage to survive in conditions that may not be very favorable to them. According to the article Mosquito Life Cycle, mosquitoes can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. Mosquitoes can multiply rapidly.

  1. Get Rid of Standing Water

One of the best preventive things you can do to stop mosquitoes from reproducing is to eliminate any standing water on or around your property. The mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs, and the first stage of their life is spent in the water. If you can address drainage issues in your yard to make sure there are no swampy areas. You may need to do this by grading your yard. The other steps that you need to take is to make sure you do not have any containers around your yard that gather standing water.

  1. Start a Mosquito Elimination Program

There are treatments available that can treat your yard for mosquitoes. The treatments will create a barrier spray that will stop adult mosquitoes from entering your yard. They also include larvicides that the larvae of mosquitoes feed on, which will stop them from developing into adults. Many cities throughout the United States use a type of program in public areas to help reduce the number of mosquitoes.

  1. Plan Your Garden Around Mosquitoes

There are certain plants that are natural mosquito repellents. While these will not kill mosquitoes, they can deter mosquitoes from spending time in your yard. Planting marigolds, basil, catnip and geraniums around your patio or areas that you gather outside can reduce the number of mosquitoes that come where you are.

  1. Take Care of Your Yard

It is important to take care of your yard in order to reduce the number of mosquitoes. When your lawn is short the ground will dry out more quickly, which gives the mosquitoes fewer areas to harbor or rest. Trimming back shrubs and bushes and cleaning out weeds and other debris can also help to reduce the number of places where mosquitoes like to rest and stay.

The Dangers of Fleas

Most people look at fleas as an annoying itchy nuisance. However, they can pose a more serious problem. Fleas carry a number of serious diseases that can affect both humans and animals. Here are a list of possibilities as well as symptoms that you should keep an eye out for.

For Humans:

Bubonic Plague

This is the same plague that was known as the Black Death in history books. Currently there are about seven reported cases in the United States each year, and the majority of them are out west. Although this was once an often fatal disease, antibiotics has made it possible to treat this disease effectively. Some signs of bubonic plague include:

  • Fever and Chills
  • Swollen tender lymph nodes
  • Skin may turn black if it develops into septicemic plague
  • Chest pain or coughing

If you suspect that you have the bubonic plague, you should visit your health care provider immediately. The biggest sign is the swollen, tender lymph nodes. A round of antibiotics can stop it from getting worse and leading to more complications.

Allergic Reaction

Some humans may have a severe allergic reaction to fleas. This reaction will increasingly get worse with each incident of exposure. Some symptoms are:

  • Hives
  • Intense itching
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing

If you expect a severe allergic reaction to fleas, you should seek immediate medical attention. It can be life-threatening if you go into anaphylactic shock. If you cannot breathe, call 911. Milder reactions may be treated with allergy medicine, but you should seek the advice of a medical professional.

For Animals:


Fleas can carry and spread tapeworms from one animal to another. Usually in order to catch the tapeworm, the infected flea needs to be ingested. Usually an animal will do this when trying to scratch or groom themselves. Here are some signs of an infestation:

  • Dogs will scoot their bottoms across the ground
  • Tapeworms may be visible in their stool
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite.
  • Lethargy
  • Poor skin and coat conditions

A veterinarian can determine if your dog has tapeworms by completing a fecal test. They can treat your dog with a de-wormer and then retest to make sure that everything has cleared up.


The key to preventing these diseases and serious complications to prevent fleas from biting you or your animals. Using flea medicine on your cats and dogs each month can help prevent fleas from entering your home, since the fleas should die once they attach themselves to your pet.

If you suspect that your animal has contracted fleas, you will need to treat it immediately by giving it a flea bath and treating the skin. You can also contact your vet to see if further treatment or testing is necessary.

In addition to treating your pet, you should likely treat your home for fleas. Fleas multiply rapidly and can quickly spread in your home. You may notice fleas because you have a series of bites on your ankles. Although many people use flea powder to treat for a flea infestation, it is best to have a professional come out and treat your home. This will guarantee that the problem will be taken care of the first time and stop the spread of any diseases or complications that may come with fleas. It’s extremely important that you also make sure your living area is regularly sprayed by flea exterminators such as Mosquito Tek or EcoTek Termite and Pest Control.