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Traveling? Here’s How to Avoid Ticks in Upstate NY

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Whether for a day trip or extended visit, Upstate NY has plenty of beautiful destinations. Hiking the Adirondacks, wine tours in the Finger lakes and exploring Letchworth state park are some of the best getaways north of the city. They’re also some of the best places to find ticks.

Don’t be discouraged by these tiny eight-legged blood sucking hitchhikers. At Assured Environments we see plenty of ticks in NYC too. We know how to avoid them and what you should do if you find a tick. Tick season lasts from spring through fall and ticks don’t slow down until the temperatures dip below 45 degrees. Don’t cancel that trip to Niagara Falls or Ithaca’s waterfalls just yet. We’ll help you prepare for a fun filled and tick free vacation.

Types of Ticks in Upstate New York

In the state of New York, including upstate, you’ll find four main types of ticks:

  • American dog ticks
  • Brown dog ticks
  • Blacklegged (deer) ticks
  • Lone star ticks

While none of these are pleasant to encounter, blacklegged or deer ticks are the ones you need to be the most concerned about.

Deer ticks are tiny, poppy seed sized bugs which makes them difficult to notice and identify. This guide provides greater detail for how to identify deer ticks. They are one of seven tick varieties in North America that transmit diseases, with Lyme being the biggest concern.

Where are Ticks in Upstate New York?

New York has been hit hard by Lyme disease. A 2018 article found that half the deer ticks in the state carry Lyme bacteria. The highest concentration was in the Hudson Valley area due to its high tick density. This has spurred the creation of tick bite awareness week.

While these statistics are sobering, there are many factors that affect your chances of being bitten by an infected tick. The preventative measures you take go a long way toward keeping you safe.

Ticks are found in every part of New York but are more prevalent in grassy and wooded areas. They are most active from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. In many cases, you’re at greater risk in an upstate backyard than heavily wooded areas where natural predators like possums keep the tick population down.

How Do Ticks Travel?

Ticks use a form of hitchhiking called “questing.” Ticks have barbed legs that can attach to nearly any surface. A tick will position itself on top of a blade of grass or bush and wait for a human or animal host to walk past. In a split second, a tick can use its hooked leg to grab hold of the host and climb aboard.

Once on a host, the tick will seek out an optimal place where the skin is thin to feed. Female ticks need the protein in blood to produce and lay eggs.

How far ticks travel depends on how far the host goes. Eventually the tick will either be discovered, or it will feed and drop off. Ticks can travel on clothes, which is why it’s important to do frequent checks when you’ve been outside. The sooner you catch them, the better!

How to Prevent Tick Bites

Don’t cancel that reservation for Montezuma Wildlife Reserve yet. With these steps you can minimize your risk for ticks bites and the illnesses associated with them and still enjoy the great outdoors.:

  • Assume that ticks are everywhere when you’re outside.
  • Wear light colored clothing that contrasts against small dark ticks.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Use a proven repellent like DEET or Permethrin.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Do a full body check once inside.
  • Run clothes through hot dryer for 20 minutes to kill ticks.

Staying vigilant and checking for ticks frequently reduces your chances of tick-borne illness. Even if you find ticks on you, if they haven’t embedded yet or for very long, you may not become infected.

What to Do if You Find a Tick

If you find a tick embedded on your body, don’t panic. Remove the tick as quickly as possible and save it if you are worried about the risk of illness. Here’s how:

To remove an embedded tick, the CDC recommends using a tweezers to grasp the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure without twisting as this can cause the mouth parts to break off.

Once the tick is removed, clean the bite with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Save the tick in a plastic bag or on piece of tape in case you need to have a medical professional test it for Lyme bacteria.

Keeping New York Pests Away all Summer

While there are many new cases of tick-borne disease in upstate New York every summer, you can stay safe if you stay vigilant. For help with ticks and all summer pests in New York City, contact Assured Environments. We’ve been proud to serve NYC for over 80 years and we know how great it is to enjoy all parts of our state pest free!

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