Finally, it’s summer and warm enough to wear shorts and flip-flops.

But if you’re outdoors, you may want to adopt a different style: Tuck your long pants into your socks, experts recommend.

OK, it’s nerdy. But it’ll mean ticks can’t crawl and bite your skin until they get to your neck, said Jim Dill, pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Because of the heavy May rain, we are in store for bumper crops of mosquitoes and ticks, and those pests carry a growing number of diseases, according to Dill and Maine Forest Service entomologist Colleen Teerling.

Sun Journal staff writer Bonnie Washuk models the recommended way to venture into tick territory, with light-colored pants tucked into your socks.

Avoiding tick bites

“It’s a bad year for ticks. There’s a lot of ticks around,” Dill said. Deer ticks thrive in high humidity. “That’s what we’ve had with all the rain.”

Already, staff in his office are coming in from outside with “twice as many ticks as last year,” he said. “It could mean people are more aware, or it could mean it’s much worse.”

Dog ticks don’t transmit diseases in Maine yet, but deer ticks transmit Lyme disease and a growing number of other diseases, experts say.

Ticks populate grassy areas and forests. Especially bad areas are those with long grass, shade, and wet or humid spots.

Dill recommends wearing repellents on the skin, and a stronger repellent, Permethrin, for clothing only, available at sporting and big-box stores. Wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts is also recommended.

“Wear light-colored clothing. It’s easier for you to see ticks,” Dill said. “Tuck your pant legs into your socks.”

Most ticks get access to a person by jumping on the lower 18 inches of the leg or ankles. Even if you’re walking fast, they can get on you. When pants are tucked into socks, ticks have less chance of finding skin, Dill said.

“Most critical is to do tick checks every night when you’ve been out and about,” he said. Also check for ticks before bedtime, especially if you’ve been gardening, and first thing in the morning.

If a tick has been on you overnight but you didn’t see it, by morning it will be engorged and easier to see, Dill said.

Another precaution: Throw the clothes you’ve worn outside in the dryer for 15 minutes. The dryer kills ticks, he said.

Experts recommend using tweezers to remove a tick from a person or pet; seeing a doctor right away; cleaning the bite area with rubbing alcohol; and saving the tick for medical diagnosis. For more information, visit: https://tinyurl.com/y9kyrkoq and https://tinyurl.com/y9f77vvr.

Avoiding mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are a bit late this year. When there was so much rain in May, “the mosquitoes were washed out of their pools,” Teerling said. “But as soon as the rain stopped, there was a lot of water. Mosquitoes like standing water.”

How bad the mosquitoes are this year depends on where you are, Dill said. He’s hearing reports that range from they aren’t that bad to it’s the worst ever seen.

To minimize mosquito bites, avoid being out at dusk and dawn and avoid doing strenuous labor at dusk and dawn. They’ll be attracted to body odor. Also avoid being outside just before a thunderstorm, because mosquitoes feed before a big storm.

“They sense the pressure and go out and feed while the feeding’s good,” Teerling said.

Empty anything outside that contains water, such as rain gutters, birdbaths and gardening buckets. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. If something’s too heavy to empty, like a birdbath, “flush it out with a hose once a week,” Dill said. It takes several days for mosquitoes to breed.

If using repellent, the ones with DEET are the most effective. Wear long sleeves and pants; light colors are best, experts say.

The mosquito population could be reduced with the right weather. They don’t like wind or dry weather, Teerling noted.

In this May 15, 2017, photo, ticks are displayed that were collected by South Street Veterinary Services in Pittsfield, Mass. Tick numbers are on the rise across New England this spring, raising the prospect of an increase in Lyme and other diseases. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File)

AP

This March 2002 file photo shows a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. New England got a respite in 2016 as the drought took a toll on ticks, whose numbers drop when humidity falls below 85 percent. But 2017 is shaping up to be a bad year for ticks across the region. (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho, File)

AP


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