University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Ticks Suck!

Being gardeners, you've probably noticed an increased in ticks this year.  According to David Roth, co-chairman of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, the increase is due to a mild winter. 

In Florida, the brown dog tick and the American dog tick are the most common.  The brown dog tick rarely bites humans, but infestations are frequently found on dogs and in the home. The American dog tick attacks a wide variety of hosts, including humans, but rarely will infest homes.

Ticks carry many diseases, but prevention is the best way to avoid diseases carried by ticks.  When you're outdoors in tall grass, brushy or treed areas, you should follow these instructions:

  1. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when you are in areas where ticks are likely to be present.  Wear white or light-colored clothing so you can see if any ticks are crawling on your clothes.  Tuck your pants legs into your boots or socks.
  2. Use repellents containing up to 30% DEET according to labeled directions. 
  3. Check to remove crawling ticks at least every three hours while outdoors.  Wearing light-colored clothing will make spotting ticks easier.
  4. Before going to sleep or after returning indoors, remove and wash clothing or place in a tightly sealed bag for storage until washing.  Conduct a full-body check for ticks followed by a shower or bath.
  5. Outdoor pets should be checked frequently and treated with an acaricidal shampoo and tick preventative under the care of a veterinarian.
  6. Prevent tick infestations around your home by using landscaping techniques to create a tick-free zone

Ticks are best removed using fine-tipped tweezers.  Grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible, and pull upward with a steady, even motion.

Read more about ticks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 


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