With their warmer weather, our neighbours to the south are used to being wary of ticks—especially the blacklegged tick, which is known for spreading Lyme disease throughout the northern Midwest and eastern United States. But with climate change heating things up, the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) has been migrating to the southern parts of Canada. And with the earlier, warmer springs we’ve been seeing, that means more opportunities for Canadians to come into contact with them—especially in our backyards, where 75% percent of tick-transmitted cases of Lyme disease originate. Luckily, you can keep ticks from spreading Lyme disease on your property with Thermacell Tick Control Tubes, which kill Lyme-carrying ticks without hurting the environment.
If you love the outdoors as much as we do, the last thing you want is Lyme disease to prevent you from getting outside. So to keep you, your family, and your dog safe from ticks, here’s everything you need to know.
How can you spot them?
The ticks you’ll find in Canada include the blacklegged tick (or deer tick), brown dog tick, American dog tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick. And while the other types can carry diseases, the blacklegged tick is the primary carrier of Lyme disease, so you’ll want to be able to tell the difference.
Blacklegged ticks resemble tiny, flat crabs. In fact, their eight legs make them arthropods, not insects. That’s the same family as spiders, so if you’re already terrified of spiders, there’s no need to edit your list of phobias. And while both blacklegged ticks and dog ticks are typically a reddish brown colour, blacklegged-ticks have—you guessed it—darker legs. They also have a solid colour on their backs, whereas dog ticks have patterns of light-coloured lines. Most importantly, blacklegged ticks are much smaller, measuring about 0.3 cm long, though they can grow to an egg-shaped 1 cm after they’ve bitten you and fed on your blood.
When and where should you be aware?
Ticks love abundant shade and tall grasses, so be especially careful if your yard at home or at the cottage has overgrown gardens or patches of brush at its edges. They’re most active in the spring and summer, but you can still encounter them in the fall, so long as the weather stays above freezing.
What precautions should you take at home?
If parts of your home or cottage property have shade and dense vegetation, Thermacell’s Tick Control Tubes are a no-spray way to kill ticks on your property without harming pets, kids, or the environment.
Simply place the tubes about 9 metres apart wherever there’s shade or undergrowth—especially beneath bushes and around your compost pile. For best results, place the tubes in those key areas twice a year: in late April and again late July, before young ticks begin feeding.
What happens if you find a tick?
If you spot a tick on your skin that’s latched on, carefully remove it with tweezers, pinching as close to your skin as possible. If you get it within the first few days, you’ll drastically reduce the possibility of Lyme disease. Once it’s out, wash and disinfect the bite. You may notice a distinct, red “bullseye” spot where you were bitten, as well as blisters and a rash in the general area. In the weeks following a bite, if you develop a low-grade fever, unusual neck stiffness, or severe fatigue or headaches, go see your doctor.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious condition spread by a specific bacteria that’s transmitted through blacklegged tick bites. According to Health Canada, the symptoms, which can include rash, fever, chills, headaches, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, can start anywhere from three days to a month after a blacklegged tick bite. And if the condition goes untreated, those symptoms can evolve into heart disorders, neurological issues ranging from memory loss to dizziness, and severe arthritis.
Are ticks a problem for pets?
Unfortunately, blacklegged ticks feast on anything warmblooded, so your pup faces the same risk as your rolled-up pant leg. It’s harder to check for ticks on a dog than it is on exposed skin, but you should still do regular checks of their fur—especially after you’ve been in the woods. The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are similar to those in humans, so if you notice anything askew in your pet’s behaviour, talk to your vet.
How can you protect yourself away from home?
When you’re in the woods away from home, wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into your socks. It might not be the most fashionable getup for your mid-hike Instagram pic, but exposed skin and long grass don’t mix during tick season. You can also spray a DEET-based repellent on your clothing as an added measure. If you’ve been in a danger zone with exposed skin, you might want to take a shower when you’re back indoors. Not only will it be easier to inspect at-risk areas, but the water will help wash away a tick that hasn’t yet bitten.
Want to keep Lyme-carrying away from your backyard? Thermacell Tick Control Tubes are a no-spray, environmentally friendly way to keep ticks at bay.