The ticks are thick as thieves and they only have one thing on their minds – find a food source. The nymphs are hungry and the adults who survived the winter are even hungrier.

The Maine Center for Disease Control reports that ticks can carry more than one disease and that over 50 percent of ticks in Maine are carrying some form of tick-borne disease, so with that knowledge, we must be extra vigilant about tick prevention and exercising all means possible to avoid contact.

Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education is busy giving prevention talks several times a week, not to mention the answering phone calls and emails from folks having tick encounters. When we talk about prevention, we may sound like a broken record, but it’s important to cover all your bases: Skin, clothing, pets, homes and yards.

Layers of protection are needed to fight against the onslaught of the rising level of ticks here in Maine. They are hungry and they are looking for any food source, human or animal. As humans, we can have some control over whether we want to be their next meal. But we must do it in layers and we must be vigilant about it on a daily basis.

It’s better than being exposed to a tick-borne disease and facing debilitating symptoms and financial exhaustion from treatments not always covered by insurance. So, take it from someone who has been through it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

• Repellent on your skin must be part of your daily routine, even when you stay at home. Put it on the kids before they go to school so they are covered when playing outdoors. Teach your kids how to do tick checks and to seek out an adult should they find an embedded tick.

• Treat your clothing with Permethrin, kids’ clothing for school or camp, and your spouse’s clothing for work. Treat your bags, your outer gear — anything that could transport a tick from point A to B.

• Talk to your vet about the best possible protection for your pet, keeping in mind age and breed. Not all prevention is suitable for all breeds and we want to first and foremost keep our pets safe.

• Clean your home with products that contains ingredients that repel ticks, like lemongrass, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils. Add some to your laundry so when you hang your clothes out on the line, ticks will be repelled. Toss them in the dryer for 10 minutes on high heat when you bring them. Ticks are arachnids and the high heat dries out their shell and kills them in.

• Whether you choose to do-it-yourself or hire a company, there are safe and effective products you can use on your yard to repel ticks and make it a safe area for your family and pets.
It’s a layering effect: Skin, clothing, pets, home and yard. Forgetting a layer allows for a tick to gain access to its food source, making all points important and vital in the battle against ticks.

Paula Jackson Jones is president and co-founder of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education, the Maine-partner of the national Lyme Disease Association and member of Maine’s CDC Vector-borne Workgroup. She can be reached at mldse.org