Personal Protection

Personal Protection
Tick bites are usually painless, the ticks are tiny, and consequently many people are unaware that they have been bitten. Ticks do not survive in hot, dry areas as it causes their bodies to dry. They can be active when temperatures are above 40F even in the winter.


Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, tuck pants into socks. Long loose hair should be covered, braided or tied when venturing into areas where ticks are apt to be. Spray your clothing, etc. (also, see Repellent Sprays section).

When coming in from outside activities where you might have encountered ticks, throw clothing into the dryer set on high heat. This will ensure no ticks survive on your clothing. Remember to do a tick check, take a shower and wash your hair.

Keep pets that have outside exposure off furniture especially bedding.

Make certain that you have very fine pointed tweezers available.

Also, see the section on property protection and repellent sprays.


Thorough tick checks should be done, daily or when coming in after outside activities when temperatures are warm and you have been in areas that you may have encountered ticks (ticks can be active even on warm winter days). Check dark, moist areas: hair, cracks behind ears, knees, elbows, underarms, crotch etc. (also see: Tick Removal section).

Check your pets for ticks when they come into the house (also, see Protecting Animals section).

Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, tuck pants into socks. Long loose hair should be covered, braided or tied when venturing into areas where ticks are apt to be. Spray your clothing, etc. (also, see Repellent Sprays section).


Ticks should be removed promptly. The longer it is attached the higher the chance of disease transmission. Remove it carefully to prevent disease transmission:

Using fine pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible without squeezing the tick’s body.

Firmly pull it straight out (expect to feel some resistance). Save the tick for future testing by placing it in a plastic bag or in a small jar of alcohol. If a tick is to tested for spirochetes place it in a small jar or vial with a blade of grass to keep it alive. Be sure to note the date and site of the bite for future reference.

NEVER: squeeze the tick, burn it, or cover it with Vaseline or any other substance.

Remember to disinfect the site of the bite, wash your hands and disinfect your tweezers.

Contact your doctor.

Repellant Sprays
DEET products can be used for exposed skin. Several controlled release DEET formulations have been developed which decrease skin absorbtion and increase protection time. Extended duration products include 3M Ultrathon, Skedaddle, and Sawyer’s Controlled Release. Concentrations of DEET effective for mosquitoes, especially for children may not be effective against ticks, so tick checks are vital (see Repellent Sprays section). US EPA information on DEET can be located at:

Permethrin 0.5% based sprays (on clothing only, not on skin, always follow manufacturers directions) for clothing, especially: shoes, socks, pants cuffs or on other fabrics such as mosquito netting, tents. It is a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide rather than a true repellant, and works primarily by killing ticks on contact with treated clothes. It lasts up to 2 weeks and provides high levels of protection against ticks and mosquitos.

These products (Duranon Tick Repellent, Repell Permanone, Cutter Outdoorsman Gear Guard, Permethrin Tick Repellent) usually can be found at sporting goods or garden supply stores. Once dry, Permethrin has a low level of mammalian toxicity, is poorly absorbed through the skin and is rapidly inactivated by the body. Comment: to prevent exposure, do not spray permethrin on clothing on a windy day. Hint: if you regularly do yardwork, you might consider using a set of clothing that you have sprayed with permethrin.

Natural or Herbal Repellents and other products are marketed for protection against mosquitos, but are probably less effective against ticks. Applications of plant-derived repellents that might reduce tick attachment are less likely to deter a tick from walking across the skin to an untreated area.

If venturing into tick habitat, a combination of both DEET for skin and permethrin on clothing might be considered. Always follow guidelines for using repellant sprays before applying.

Consumers Report, June 2000, “Buzz-off!” contains worthwhile information on insect repellants.

Property Management
Ticks are most common in overgrown places where the ground is covered with leaf litter, weeds, and high grass, etc. These are the areas where they are protected from harsh drying effects of sun and wind, and are also where mice and deer live. Ticks can be found in the ecotone that surrounds your lawn area from the woods. Sometimes they can be found on well mowed lawns or in your home, because they dropped off animals or pets that crossed over or entered these areas.

The following methods are suggested to minimize ticks on your property.

Create tick free zones around your home by cutting back wooded areas and increasing the size of open lawn.

Keep grass mowed to 3 inches or less. This lowers humidity at ground level, making it difficult for ticks to survive.

Place play areas in sunshine.

Remove leaf litter, moist plant litter, brush, weeds and other debris that attract ticks.

Eliminate dense plant beds close to your home such as ivy and pachysandra.

Create borders (pebbles, cedar chips) to separate your lawn from the wooded area surrounding it.

Rock walls, woodpiles, and birdfeeders attract mice and chipmunks which hide, nest and eat spilled food from these sources. Do your best to keep these far from your home.

Keep garbage in tightly closed cans and don’t leave pet food outside or purposely attract and feed wild animals.

Reduce plants that attract deer and plant those that they do not eat.

Scare tactics can be used to keep deer away.

Soap such as Irish Spring can be used to keep deer from eating plants.

Ten foot high deer fences can be used to keep them out of property.

See Tick control section for information about arcaricides and insecticides.

See Research section for the multiple other exciting methods under development.


The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, which is involved in tick research has a wonderful resource site prepared by Kirby C. Stafford III, PhD. Dr. Stafford has also published the Tick Management Handbook.

Please note: The Tick Management Handbook is quite large and may take considerable time to load into your browser.

Tick Control
There are many methodologies to control ticks. Most of these are covered under the topics of Property Management or under Research.

Host reduction and exclusion: We have built homes in wooded areas, farmlands have decreased; the result of this is an increase in deer and mouse populations and an increase of human contact with ticks.

The deer are responsible for increasing the tick population. The mouse, followed by the chipmunk are responsible for the spread of many tick-borne pathogens, as they are the reservoirs for the disease organisms (as an example for the Lyme disease spirochete). Therefore, reducing exposure to these animals and reducing ticks on them seem a reasonable approach and are incorporated into much of the research and recommendations in the other sections.

Insecticidal soaps and Diatomaceous earth (silicon dioxide) due to its desiccation (drying) properties work against ticks.

Arcaricides are another approach that is quite controversial, use only those that are labeled for the control of ticks in residential landscape. They can be quite effective against nymphal ticks if application is done at the optimum date of mid-May to early June in the Northeast. A fall application may be used to control the adult I.scapularis. Comment: most people acquire Lyme disease from the nymphal ticks, due to their small size. Always read and follow EPA approved label on the product containers.

Cyfluthrin (Tempo). Chemical class: pyrethroid. For licensed applicator use only, is one of the most commonly used commercial products for tick control.

A website prepared by Kirby C. Stafford III, Ph.D., at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station contains more information about these products. It can be found online at:

The Lyme disease vaccine, Lymerix was withdrawn from the market on Feb. 27, 2002.

Many serious diseases are carried by the blacklegged tick, such as Lyme, babesiosis, ehrlichosis, etc., thus one bite can transmit multiple organisms simutaneously. Therefore, it makes better sense to utilize funding to support tick control research and intervention methods rather than a vaccine that will only protect against Lyme disease?

The University of Connecticut in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health & the Centers for Disease Control are researching molecules and/or proteins in the tick saliva and salivary glands to develop a vaccine that would block the ticks’ ability to feed and transmit pathogens. This would cause the tick to “drop off of the animal” thus has the potiental to prevent not only Lyme disease but other tick-borne disorders.

Those of us from S.T.O.P. would hope that would be developed into an oral vaccine for animals such as the mice and deer. In that way the ticks would not be able to complete their life cycle, causing mortality and drastic reduction of their populations, thus protecting humans and pets. An environmental solution for an environmental problem!

Protecting Animals

Check with your veterinarian for tick control products and/or a Lyme disease vaccine that they consider safe for your animal. Remember that exposing your pet to more than one type of treatment (collars, dips, baths or powders) within a short period of time might seriously harm your pet. For pets that go outdoors, check them carefully when they return inside.

Designate specific sleeping areas for your pets and check their bedding routinely for ticks (if they get on your furniture check it also). It is wise to vacuum their bedding, carpeting, and furniture they frequent, then dispose of the vacuum bag contents in outdoor trash can.


For information about “4 poster” feeder stations which reduce ticks on deer, see Research section.


Keep small animals, such as mice outside of your home by sealing small gaps. For information about bait boxes that reduce ticks on mice and chipmunks, see Research section.

You may also use Damminix, tubes stuffed with cotton balls treated with the pesticide permethrin. Mice make nesting materials from the cotton, thus reducing the ticks on the mice.