Summit Metro Parks officials want visitors to be prepared, not ticked off.
Ticks are unwelcome guests, and bites from the little arachnids can cause pain and possible illness.
The last couple of mild winters have resulted in a small explosion of ticks in the county,” Summit Metro Parks biologist Rob Curtis said. “One of the best things we can do for the public is make them aware, so they can be prepared
Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said the park district is sharing information about ticks on social media, on its website – summitmetroparks.org – and in park kiosks in locations where ticks may be encountered.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also has a detailed handbook available online, titled Tickborne Diseases of the United States.
Ticks can be picked up on low-growing vegetation any time temperatures are above freezing, but they are most active in spring and fall. Ohio has three types of hard-bodied ticks. The most common is the American dog tick, followed by the blacklegged tick, which is often called the deer tick. The lone star tick is generally only found in southern Ohio.
Deer ticks, which are black and often have a rust colored crescent, are about the size of a sesame seed, prefer the woods and can be active year-round. Dog ticks are larger, are brown with a light ornamentation or pattern on their backs, and prefer grassy areas like meadows and prairies.
Ticks are blood feeders, meaning they must find a host, take a bite and then drink their meal. They need to feed for at least 24 hours before disease transmission to the host is possible, so the best way to prevent illness is to prevent ticks from even getting on you – and on your dog.
Ways to reduce tick encounters include:
•Use a bug spray containing at least 25% DEET.
•Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants tucked into your boots or socks.
•Stay on designated trails and avoid brushing up against adjacent vegetation.
•Wear clothing that is light in color so you can easily see and remove ticks. Tumble dry clothing or gear on high heat for an hour to kill any ticks you may have missed.
•Keep pets leashed and on trails during walks. (Leash laws apply in the Metro Parks anyway. The maximum length is 8 feet.)
If you are bitten by a tick, here’s how to safely remove it:
•Using a pair of tweezers, firmly grasp the tick near its head.
•Using even pressure, pull the tick straight out until it is no longer attached. Check the tick to make sure its head came out, too.
•After the tick has been removed, wash the area with soap and water.
•Do not throw the tick away. Place it in a plastic bag, and then put it in the freezer or a container with rubbing alcohol. This way, if you go to the doctor, you can give them the tick that bit you.