Whether you're out on a hike or just working in the yard, ticks are something you should be thinking about this time of year.

Late April through the summer months are prime time for ticks in the Mid-Atlantic states. Here's what you need to know about how to avoid them and what to do if one finds you.

What kind of ticks live near me?

According to Fairfax County, three tick species are most common in our area: Backlegged (or Deer) Ticks, Lone Star Ticks, and American Dog Ticks.

Media reports show that experts anticipate a very active tick population for 2019, due in part to a mild winter.

tick chart

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control

How do ticks attack?

While they don't fly, ticks wait on grass and shrubs for hosts to walk by. They will then hitch a ride and climb onto the host, sometimes wandering around before settling on a thin-skinned area to feed. For both pets and humans, this can be tender areas like behind the knee or ear. Is anyone else feeling itchy?

How can I avoid ticks when I'm outside?

Some simple ways to stay tick-free include:

  • Check yourself and your pets regularly if you spend time outside. On a dog, a little bump may be a burrowing tick – make sure you look beyond their fur at their skin.
  • Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when hiking or working outdoors. Tuck your pants into your socks and keep an eye out for stowaways.
  • Keep your lawn short and don't let the grass get long enough to be a tick playground.
  • Use tick-repelling bug spray, preferably containing DEET, especially if you'll be in wooded areas or high grass.

hiking

Courtesy of Unsplash

What's the best way to get rid of a tick?

The CDC recommends removing ticks from your skin or your pet with fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly straight upward. Part of the tick's mouth can break off during this process. Try your best to remove them, then clean the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. 

Once you remove the tick, put it in a small container of alcohol. If you or your pet start showing symptoms of illness, you may need it to help diagnose or rule out tick-borne diseases.

tick, tweezers

Courtesy of Medical News Today

With a little due diligence and some careful attention, you can keep your family tick-free this season. Don't let your guard down against these seasonal pests!

Do you have any tick-related tips? How do you about avoid them or remove them? Let us know in the comments!