Ticks are tiny arachnids that are found all over the world, especially in tropical and warmer regions of the world. They are a very diverse group with over 800 different species documented so far. They are mainly categorized into hard ticks which have hard plates on their back that makes it harder to squash them and soft ticks that don’t have this armored plating making them easy to eliminate. In this article, we will look at how to kill ticks effectively.
Ticks are parasites that are of the external kind, they live on the body surface of different categories of animals such as birds, mammals, amphibians and some reptiles, feeding on their blood as they grow from larvae to adults.
They are very attracted to warm and moist hard parts of animal’s bodies as they crawl rather than fly into position to bite and feed off the blood of its host. In the event of the lack of a blood meal, ticks can easily die off naturally, although there are some species that can live for almost a year without a proper blood meal.
Ticks are disease carriers and can transmit pathogens to their hosts. However it is the soft ticks rather than the hard ones that are more prone to transmitting pathogens to their hosts. The transmission which takes place at the end of its feeding session takes all of a few minutes in soft ticks while it be a few hours before a hard tick transmits any disease to it host.
Tick Bites and Their Harmful Effects
Ticks are very harmful to their hosts whether humans or animals as they transmit diseases during their blood feasts. Due to their non-discriminating nature as to where to feed, they keep on distributing one disease or the other from one host to the next.
They can be especially devastating to livestock as one of the diseases they spread known as the Texas fever and wipe out over 90 percent of the cow population in any given place especially those that haven’t lived up to 1 year from birth. Majority of ticks don’t spread pathogens but those that do are responsible for the spread of some major diseases like Lyme disease, Q fever, rocky mountain, Colorado tick fever and Tularemia.
Symptoms of a Tick Bite
Depending on the actual pathogens that have being transmitted, tick bites can have a very wide range of symptoms that develop from between days to weeks after the host has been bitten. Some of the better known symptoms of tick bites include:
- Severe itching around they bitten region, which persists even after trying known techniques that usually control body itch.
- A burning sensation developing at the spot where the tick bit the host
- Severe irritation and redness of the bitten region this also known as the “red spot”
- The joints of the host become very painful to move and manipulate even after long periods
- Weakness of the entire body might also be experienced.
Some individuals, apart from the above general symptoms have allergic reactions to ticks and their bites. As such they develop further symptoms like:
- Serious rashes developing around the bitten region, reminiscent of an allergic reaction
- The bitten host begins to lose their effortless ability to breath as if they were at very high altitude.
- A huge swelling of the bitten region might develop
- Expansive regions of the victim’s body may begin to feel numb as if actually detached from the rest of the body.
- And lastly some victims might suffer from a very stiff neck which has nothing to do with sleeping on the wrong side of the bed
How to Handle Tick Bites
- Always wear hand gloves whenever you handle ticks to avoid coming in contact with the pathogens and getting infected by them
- Use tweezers or forceps to pick them up but don’t squeeze too hard to avoid them bursting and possibly spreading their pathogens around
- It is likely that the bite site might leave an indentation where the mouth parts and its head rested, in case there remains portions of the tick on the bitten spot, let the doctor handle their removal
- Use disinfectants, water and soap to thoroughly clean up the bite spot. Keep a close watch on the bitten spot in the days ahead, and use antibiotics to prevent any further spread of infection in the body.
How to Kill Ticks
- Chemical Method: One of the most effective methods of eliminating ticks completely is through the use of chemicals known as acaricides, which poisons the tick when applied. In the case of host animals with an endemic tick problem, the chemicals are applied by using baited tubes, boxes or feeding stations.
- Biological Method: Ticks can also be killed through the use of insects such as wasps, or through application of some specialized fungi that feed on them or through the use of some parasitic nematodes
- Diatomaceous Earth: Like in other parasites and pests, diatomaceous earth is an effective killer of ticks. When applied on the tick, it scorches it outer layer and dries it body fluid up completely resulting in death.
- Organic Neem Oil: Ticks can also be killed through the use of organic neem oil which when applied disrupts its growth and effectively repels it from the host body. Neem oil is particularly useful because it has no toxic effect on the body when applied
- Cedar Oil: Cedar oil is another safe to use natural repellent that is lethal to ticks whenever applied.
- Citrus Fruits: The strong pungent smell of citrus is a very powerful repellent against ticks. Take citrus peels and boil them in water, then use the concentrated water and pour around the infested places. The smell of the citrus is quite hated by ticks which effectively repels them.
- Garlic: Another good tick repellent is garlic. It too has a distinct smell that doesn’t suit ticks and chases them away.