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Enjoying the great outdoors is popular with millions of North Americans. Our vast continent is blessed with an abundance of wilderness and there are lots of different ways to experience it. One downside to outdoor activity is picking up unwanted hangers-on…like little arachnid hitchhikers!

We are speaking, of course, about ticks. Although the tick family has many different subspecies, they all have several characteristics in common. Being arachnids like spiders, ticks have eight legs instead of six. They do not jump or fly. All ticks rely on blood for food. Most often this is mammalian blood, but ticks are also known to parasitize birds, reptiles and some amphibians. If a tick cannot find a wild host, it will move on its the next best opportunity, which is often a human or pet. Once a tick attaches itself to a host, it will consume from 200 to 600 times its own body weight in blood, growing many times its size in the process. Some ticks secrete a cement-like substance to help them attach to their host for a longer feed.

Not only unpleasant, ticks can also carry diseases, most of them bacterial. Lyme disease has gained a great deal of media attention, but other illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can also result from tick bites. However, these diseases are not transmitted immediately, so early removal of the tick can be key in preventing illness.

Preventative steps can be taken to minimize the chance of tick bites. Around the home, keep lawns clipped short and garbage secure. Reduce or eliminate clutter and objects where rodents may nest and discourage wildlife on your property as much as possible. Where there is wildlife, there will be ticks! Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled in a light layer around the entire perimeter of the home to prevent any ticks (and other crawling insects) from entering. Diatomaceous earth is a physical insecticide that kills invertebrates like arachnids by desiccation.

When out of doors, wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants; not only does this make the dark ticks more visible, it will help prevent bites. Check people and animals thoroughly and frequently when outside and after coming home; especially around faces, feet and wherever the skin folds. For dogs and cats with very thick or long coats, you can use a hair dryer on its lowest setting to part the fur for inspection. You can also dust a light sprinkling of food-grade diatomaceous earth on and around the pet’s bedding and resting areas. Because of the physical mode of action, this is safe for people and animals but lethal to the ticks.

To find out more information and a multitude of uses for diatomaceous earth, be sure to check out our website at www.absorbentproducts.com.

And get yourself outside!