When ticks attack! Tips for avoiding Lyme disease

The kinds of ticks, clockwise from top: Black Legged Tick, \'\'vector of Lyme disease,\'\' says U. Md. entomologist Mike Raupp; Lone Star Tick, \'\'vector of Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI),\'\' he says; American Dog Tick, \'\'vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Get them off quickly!\'\' says Raupp. (Photo courtesy University of Maryland)

WASHINGTON – The joys of an early spring aren’t without their more sinister counterparts. In order to enjoy the blossoms and warm weather, area residents must also put up with the ensuing pests, such as pollen and disease-carrying bugs.

But have no fear. WTOP spoke with Mike Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, who has tips for keeping clear of ticks and the Lyme disease they often carry.

Firstly, ticks don’t carry the disease inherently. They catch it the same way people do: from rodents. Raupp says good protection begins with keeping all of these pests away from the house.

“You can imagine that portion of your yard that kind of backs onto the wood, and it’s a little bit grassy and perhaps there’s a brush pile there,” says Raupp. “Places where rodents can hide — eliminate that.”

Dogs are “extremely susceptible” to Lyme disease, says Raupp, though cats are not, particularly.

The bug expert also has this, perhaps unwelcome, advice for deterring ticks:

“If you’re going to walk in a meadow, if you have lawn and hard brush removal to do, wear long pants, wear a long sleeve shirt,” he says. “And I know this is incredibly geeky, but tuck those pants legs into your socks.”

He also suggests wearing light-colored clothing that makes ticks easier to spot.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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