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Ticks are ready to munch on you this spring; here's how to keep them away

Posted at 4:30 AM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 23:55:47-04

Ticks: The closest thing our planet has to the face-hugging xenomorphs from "Alien."

Like the spider-legged pop culture parasite, these little arachnids latch on to you, burrow into your skin and turn your body into a buffet. They won't burst out of your ribcage afterward -- thankfully -- but they can leave you with a parting gift of Lyme disease or a cocktail of other tick-borne illnesses.

If Lyme disease is inadequately treated, symptoms such arthritis, facial palsy, irregular heartbeat and brain inflammation can persist throughout the rest of a patient's life. Ticks can also carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can lead to patients needing amputations due to severe blood vessel damage.

Have you processed all that scary news? We've got more. Like creepy-crawlies in horror movies, ticks are multiplying en masse.

"We're seeing the tick population exploding right now with the weather and the moisture," Adam Zellner, vice president of sales for Oasis Turf and Tree, said.

Ticks prefer to live in grassy, wooded areas in nature or hitch a ride on the animals that frequent them. Humans are at greatest risk of becoming unwilling hosts when participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, hunting, camping or gardening, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they can even show up in your front lawn.

As the population grows, reports of people contracting tick-borne illnesses increase. We asked Zellner for his advice on keeping ticks away from Greater Cincinnati's homes and gardens. Here's what he said:

  • If you live near a forested area, create a barrier between your yard and the woodline. Zellner recommended a three or 4-foot line of mulch to keep the two apart.
  • Keep swing sets and other yard furniture closer to the house than the trees.
  • If possible, pre-treat your lawn. Oasis offers pre-treatment services that should minimize the presence of fleas, ticks and other pests during the spring and summer.
  • Know how to remove a tick if you end up with one anyway. Folk remedies like painting the tick with nail polish are no good, according to the CDC. Anyone who discovers a tick on themselves or their pet should remove it by gripping it close to the head with a pair of tweezers and pull it out "with steady, even pressure."

"The concerning thing about ticks is, a lot of times, they see you before you see them," Zellner said.

Spooky. Stay frosty out there, Greater Cincinnati.