Avoiding ticks while farming and hunting

Fully enjoying the perks of life on farm and ranch land for sale in Texas does, from time to time, involve dealing with the occasional rodent, insect or reptilian pests. In certain parts of the state, it'll be a snake that sneaks into the chicken coop and snacks on a bunch of eggs. In most places, the pests are much more banal. Ticks can be counted among the nuisances that can be mundane if dealt with properly, but will be a real hazard if either ignored or not appropriately treated.

With this in mind, let's take some time to go over the threats that ticks will present, and also look at how best to deal with them. Just because these pesky insects can be a reality of country living doesn't meant that they have to be one that notably affects your life or the processes of your farm.

Most American tick species can be found in Texas, and it's important for farmers and ranchers to avoid them.

Which ticks can be found in Texas?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all of the tick species found in the U.S. can be found somewhere in Texas, albeit mostly in the southern and eastern portions of the state. Only the Rocky Mountain wood tick and Western black-legged tick aren't found anywhere in the Lone Star state.

As for those that do crop up in Texas, they are as follows: 

  • American dog tick: Found in the state's entire eastern half. These ticks transmit tularemia, which is dangerous but rarely life-threatening, as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is the exact opposite - prompt treatment will cure it but delays can be fatal.
  • Black-legged tick: More commonly known as the deer tick, this species is the primary transmitter of Lyme disease. It lives in most of Texas except for right in the center, in the Panhandle and to the far west.
  • Brown dog tick: Found all over Texas and all over the world. It transmits the same diseases as its American counterpart, but, per its name, is far more likely to bite dogs than humans. That said, if you've got a four-footed friend on your farm, use the proper repellents to keep him or her tick-free.
  • Gulf Coast tick: Only farmers living in the southern tip of the state or along the east coast need to worry about this tick, which can transmit a form of spotted fever to humans. 
  • Lone Star tick: Despite its name, this species isn't found throughout all of Texas (mostly in the south and east) and doesn't bear markings on it in the state's shape - instead, there's a bright white dot on the back of females. Perhaps the most aggressive tick species, its bites can cause itching and irritation. They may also spread tularemia, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI, a condition similar to Lyme) and ehrlichiosis, a fever- and fatigue-causing condition.

Prevention is the greatest repellent
As with any pest of the insect variety, the best way to avoid ticks is to greatly reduce the chances they have to come in contact with your skin. According to Land magazine, wearing long sleeves and pants when working or hiking in tick-prone areas is wise, as is using a strong insect repellent on any parts of your skin that are bare. You may even want to consider seeking out tick-repellent clothing, which can be found at most outlets that sell outdoor apparel.

Tick removal the right way
Because ticks are small, you might think you can just flick them right off if you catch them quick enough. Think again! Tick removal should only be done with a pair of tweezers with pointy ends, according to the TickEncounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island. Regular household tweezers have blunter ends, which won't work. 

Beyond that, the removal process goes like this:

  • Before touching the tick at all, use isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the bitten area. (This may have the added effect of catching the tick off-guard, but it's no guarantee - especially since they've just found a food source.)
  • Next, place the tweezers on or close to the tick's head.
  • Pull up slow and steady. This should get it off the skin. 
  • Disinfect the spot of the bite once again.
  • Remember: If perchance you rip off the tick's body but leave its head on first try, you won't be at risk for disease. But if the opposite happens, you might still contract any disease it's carrying even though it's dead. As such, you should get tested for all applicable tick-borne diseases immediately.