Another s-tick-y summer ahead for Oklahoma

If you have spent anytime outside lately then you might have been surprised when you found a tick or two – ALREADY!  Just this last week my husband found one on his back and we found one in my daughter’s hair.  They are here and in full force early.  Here is a great article from OSU livestock entomologist to help you know how to  combat these little critters and protect your family.

Despite their tiny stature, ticks could become a big problem for Oklahomans this spring and summer.

Thanks to another mild winter and now increasingly warmer temperatures, ticks are already noticeably active across the state.

“Because we didn’t have a winter that could impact tick populations, tick season is going to be longer and possibly more intense if temperatures remain within normal ranges for this time of year,” said Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist.

No significant hard freezes this past winter has provided ample opportunities for ticks and common hosts of the pest, such as deer, opossum and raccoons, to not only survive, but thrive because of a plentiful food supply.

“There were ideal environmental conditions as well as ideal pasture conditions allowing wild animals to import tick populations,” Talley said. “The same is true of cattle, horses, dogs and other domesticated animals, which also serve as hosts for ticks.”

Homeowners do have the option of treating their yards to control for ticks, especially when those properties are located next to natural habitats and wooded areas with tall vegetation or trees.

“If you’re considering treating your lawn to help control ticks, keep in mind the idea is to establish a boundary between the property and the natural habitat or wooded area,” Talley said.

There are multiple tick-control products available, both in granular and spray form. These products can be purchased at any home improvement store and will be labelled as effective against ticks.

Treating wooded areas will require a high-pressure sprayer that can turn over vegetation. Homeowners who do not have access to the proper equipment may contact a professional pest control operator for assistance.

How long a product remains effective can vary, though, and depends on factors such as the weather and the severity of the tick population in the yard.

“Sprays can be diluted by rain and heavy dew, but some granular products are activated by water. Just be aware of the forecast to get the most out of your tick control program,” Talley said. “To determine how bad the ticks are in your yard, take a walk around the area and see how many ticks you attract. Wear light colored clothing so it’ll be easier to see them.”

Finally, a strong pest control program for pets also can play an important role in managing a yard’s tick population.

“Pets are the number one way ticks get in the house. Animals will go into wooded habitats and bring back ticks, so pet owners should keep their tick protection up to date whether it’s a spot, pill or collar,” Talley said. “This is a year-round process for pets since Oklahoma has staggering tick populations that can affect them.”

Source: Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist, Agricultural Communications Services

 

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