Spending time in the Maine outdoors is a great way to enjoy nature.  Don’t let tick and mosquito bites get in the way your of enjoying the outdoors. Most insect bites are harmless, but some ticks and mosquitoes can spread infections. By far, the best way to avoid these infections is to be aware of the risks and to utilize prevention and control techniques.   Read below to find specific prevention and control tips for ticks and mosquitos.

TICKS

Tick Prevention

Few people are infected before the tick has been feeding for 36 hours. Diagnosed in early stages, both Lyme disease and anaplasmosis are easily and effectively treated with oral antibiotics. If Lyme disease is unrecognized and untreated, it may progress to cause arthritis and neurological problems, but treatment is still usually effective.

This informational video to the right is about ticks and tick prevention was produced by the MaineDOT to increase awareness among its many employees who work outdoors each day.  The video features Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s Chuck Lubelczyk, Vector Ecologist,  from the Vector Borne-Disease Laboratory.

  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants when walking in woods, brush, or tall grass. Deer ticks attach to clothing and then walk upward.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so ticks may be seen more easily.
  • Use an effective repellent such as DEET or picaradin according to label directions — particularly on shoes, socks, and pant legs. Avoid applying high-concentration products to the skin, especially on children.
  • People who must be in areas where ticks are prevalent may pre-treat clothing with a permethrin-containing product which both repels and kills ticks. Use only as directed on the label.
  • To protect pets, consult your veterinarian about tick repellents, acaricides and Lyme vaccines for dogs.
  • Inspect yourself, your clothing, your children, your companion, and your pets for ticks when you get in from the field. Ticks often attach in body folds, behind ears and in the hair. Showering removes unattached ticks, and heating in a clothes dryer is effective in killing ticks.
  • Mowing grass and cutting brush in yards may reduce tick habitats in problem areas.
  • When transporting pets or game, precautions should be taken to avoid bringing ticks into new areas.
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, preferably with fine tweezers, and pull gently but firmly until the tick releases.
  • Do not handle ticks with bare hands.
  • Clean the bite with soap and water and apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream.
  • Save the tick in a small bottle of 70% alcohol for identification if needed
  • Consult your physician if you remove an engorged deer tick.

Note: Folklore removal methods such as burning with a match or applying vaseline or nail polish do not work and may increase the likelihood of infection. It has been demonstrated that a single oral dose of the antibiotic doxycycline, if given within 72 hours of removal of a deer tick, may provide effective prophylaxis for Lyme disease.

The LYMErix vaccine, which was approved in 1998 by the Food and Drug Administration for use in adults, is no longer available. The manufacturer withdrew the product from the market in February 2002, citing insufficient demand as the reason for their action. A new vaccine effective against both U.S. and European strains of Borrelia is being developed overseas.

Tick Control

To control deer ticks, an integrated approach is recommended which involves personal protection, landscape management and, where the risk is high, application of acaricides to tick habitat. An excellent and comprehensive review of tick IPM will be found in the “Tick Management Handbook“, prepared by the State of Connecticut.

Deer ticks thrive in bushy, deciduous habitats with leaf litter that provide the shade and moisture needed to protect them from fatal desiccation. Removal of shrubs, especially of barberry, honeysuckle and other invasive species, is a very important first step in controlling ticks around the home. Further control, particularly where ticks abound, may require the use of tick-killing pesticides (acaricides).

Where relatively small areas are to be treated, homeowners may use over-the-counter sprays or granular products, but lower concentrations of active ingredients and inadequate application force may limit their effectiveness.

For larger properties, a professional applicator with specialized equipment to mix and apply product with a high pressure hose sufficient to disturb the leaf litter will be the most effective choice

Click on the link below, “Ticks in Maine: What do I need to know?” for further information.

TicksinMaine


MOSQUITOS

Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in moist areas including standing water. After the egg becomes larvae they remain in the water until they can fly off. Adult mosquitoes choose to live in weeds, tall grass and shrubs. They will also enter homes if screens are broken or unscreened windows and doors.

Mosquito Prevention & Control

  • Get rid of any standing water that is available for mosquito breeding- any puddle that last longer than four days
    Mosquito Life Cycle

    Image Source: Mariana Ruiz Villarreal (Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Culex_mosquito_life_cycle_en.svg

  • Get rid of any regularly empty containers on property- including trash  cans
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Drilling holes in the bottom of empty containers that are left outside to allow water to drain out
  • Turn over any object that can collect water when not in use
  • Clean clogged roof gutters- removing leaves and debris that prevent drainage of rainwater
  • Stagnant water in tires is a place mosquitoes will breed
  • Do not allow stagnant water in bird baths or ponds, or add fish
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on property
  • Be aware when traveling abroad- pick lodging with air conditioning or screened windows and doors

For more information on mosquito surveillance view the:  Maine CDC Arboviral Surveillance & Response Plan