WATCH: Tips for avoiding ticks from an MSU expert

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Howard Russel, also known as “Bug Man,” is an entomologist with the plant and pest diagnostic lab at Michigan State University. His house has been infested with ticks.

“We’ve been finding ticks in our house and on our dogs and on us since the end of March,” Russel said.

Russel said ticks have been becoming more and more prevalent in the lower peninsula of Michigan for the last several years, and this year has been crazy he said.

“We have a little sign that we keep on our refrigerator that says “it’s been so many days since we’ve found the last tick in our house” and that’s been zero for the last week or so,” Russel said. “So I found one on me this morning laying in bed.”

The million dollar question is, what can you do to avoid these blood suckers?

“Well you can avoid ticky areas, and then repellants are pretty effective,” Russel said. “And then general tick inspections at the end of the day to make sure you don’t have anything embedded into you. Those three things right there are probably the easiest to follow.”

The CDC has the following tips on their website for avoiding ticks:

Before You Go Outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal icon containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid Contact with Ticks
    • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
    • Walk in the center of trails.

After You Come Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

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