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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Managing habitat and hosts help reduce ticks

Monday, July 2, 2007

SIKESTON -- When it comes to reducing your exposure to ticks, experts recommend managing habitat and hosts.

Ticks prefer bushy, tall grass, often on the edge of wooded areas, and brushy growth, according to Richard Houseman, associate professor of entomology at the University of Missouri.

"We just have to be mindful of that -- keep the grass trimmed, keep the underbrush trimmed," he said. "They like that moist, deep grass."

Houseman recommended keeping grass shorter than three inches and keeping bushes trimmed up away from the ground as "air circulation drives them out."

Hosts include deer, rodents, rabbits, squirrels, birds, raccoons and possums, among others. Any time these potential hosts are around, it increases the risk of tick exposure.

If you are going to be in an area that is likely to have ticks, the most effective protection is to wrap tape or a cord around the base of your pant legs so ticks can't get under clothing.

"It's not very socially acceptable, but it is extremely effective," Houseman said.

He said there are only two chemical repellents recommended by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.

The active ingredient DEET has been around for some time "and shown to be very effective," Houseman said.

The second is a new active ingredient, Picaridin, that "feels cleaner," Houseman said, as it doesn't leave an oily residue.

He said Picaridin also doesn't react with synthetics so plastic watch faces, for example, won't become cloudy.