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It’s Time to Fight the Bite

Seasonal Preparedness Reminder: Protect Yourself from Ticks and Mosquitoes

fightthebiteIt’s June and two warm weather menaces, mosquitoes and ticks, have once again begun to make their presence known.  We have just seen our first mosquito and certainly have encountered ticks while outdoors in the garden.  Outdoor recreational activity such as barbeques and picnics, backyard games, play sets, gardening, hikes, walking the dog… are all occasions for encountering these annoying and dangerous backyard pests, and exposing yourself to irritation at the very least and possible illness. 

Mosquito and Tick Activity

Ticks in the Northeast can be active year-round and any time of day. They are most active during the warmer months of the year and can be as small as poppy seeds during the spring and summer.

FYI, you can still be bitten by a tick in the winter! If the temperature is warm enough and the snow has started to melt, ticks can be active. 

Mosquitoes are most active during the warmer months of the year, usually from the beginning of April through October.  In the Northeast, some types of mosquitoes can bite during the day and others at dusk and nighttime, which means you can be bitten any time of day when outside.

Where Do Ticks and Mosquitoes Live?

Ticks tend to live in heavily wooded areas, but also in shrubbery, weeds, grass, and piles of leaves. You can be bitten by a tick in any of these areas, walking along the edges of roads or hiking trails, and even in your own backyard. Be sure to always check yourself thoroughly for ticks after spending time in these areas!

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. You can find them in roadside ditches, woodland pools, and containers like flowerpots, bird baths, and old tires.  In addition to natural habitats, mosquitoes can be found around your home and neighborhood.  Dump out standing water weekly to keep mosquitoes away from your home!

More on Mosquitoes

The duration of the mosquito season can be surprisingly long and is dependent upon the amount of precipitation and seasonal temperatures. It can begin as early as March and last through the end of October. There are numerous natural mosquito habitats in our area as well as backyard hotspots where mosquitos will breed. Please educate yourself, spread the message and take steps to control mosquitoes in your backyard and reduce the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

“Over 200 types of mosquitoes live in the continental United States and US territories; of these 200, about 12 types spread germs that can make people sick. Other mosquitoes bother people and are considered nuisance mosquitoes. In general, nuisance mosquitoes do not spread germs. Because you can’t tell which mosquito could be spreading germs when it bites, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.”[1]

Mosquito Proof Your Yard

Mosquitoes need temperatures above 50°F to thrive.  They also appreciate wet weather, the standing water (puddles, ditches, and other areas that collect water) from heavy rainfalls in which to lay their eggs to produce larvae and grow into full-grown mosquitoes.  Keep an eye out following any rainfall for standing water around your property and be sure to remove it promptly.

  • Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
  • For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
  • If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps. Cover open vent or plumbing pipes. Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Clear weeds and underbrush and trim shrubs.
  • Mow your lawn as often as necessary to keep the grass from growing too tall.
  • Encourage your neighbors to also eliminate sources on their own property.

Use Natural Controls

Use natural controls such as herbs and scented oils around your backyard and grow insect -repellent plants. These naturally repel mosquitoes. Citronella, lemongrass, and chrysanthemum are nontoxic and keep mosquitoes at bay.  Lemon balm, mint, chrysanthemums, marigolds, basil, garlic, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary also repel mosquitoes, but is quite pleasant to look at and smell.

Keep Mosquitoes Out

  • Install or repair and use window and door screens. Do not leave doors propped open.
  • Use air conditioning when necessary.

Mosquito Proof Yourself

Did you know that bare skin and dark clothing attract mosquitoes?  

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Properly apply an EPA-registered repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR 3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
  • Be aware that outdoor alcohol consumption might make you a lot more attractive to roving mosquitoes. [2]
  • Time your work outs to avoid the early and the late hours of the day when mosquitoes are most active. Avoiding their busiest times is no guarantee of avoiding the bite though. Lactic acid, body odor, and chemicals found in human sweat all attract those pesky skeeters.

Did you know that if you are the Universal Donor (O+), mosquitoes apparently feel that they are included in the list of recipients?

Diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes in New Jersey include:

Maintain Your Rain Barrel

Tips for Keeping your Rain Barrel Mosquito Free from Rutgers University.

More on Ticks

Tick Behavior

engorgedtickTicks begin life really tiny, about the size of a poppy seed. This is when they are in the nymph stage of their life cycle. To continue to the adult stage, they must feed on blood.

Ticks live in long grass and brushy areas like in the woods and latch on to humans and other animals as they walk by.

Once a tick finds a host (human or animal) to feed on, the tick punctures the skin. This causes blood to pool and the tick can suck it up. You can see the tick’s gut in the highlighted colors in the picture on the right. This is where the blood is filtered, and excess water is returned to the host—this is also when germs are spread from the tick to the host its feeding on. Germs like bacteria or viruses cause disease.

An attached tick feeding on the host’s blood gradually becomes engorged. Adult ticks will generally remain attached for about 7-10 days if not removed.

Most diseases, including Lyme disease, can be spread 36-48 hours after being bitten by an infected tick. This is why it’s important to perform tick checks regularly, especially after being outdoors.


The best defense against Lyme and other tickborne infections is prevention.  While enjoying the great outdoors, the CDC urges that you:

  • “Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tickborne diseases. They may also bring ticks into your home. Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your dog.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks and remove any ticks right away. They tend to concentrate in the following areas: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, and around the waist.
  • 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.”[3]

What To Do If You Find an Attached Tick


  • You may want to find a trusted adult to help you remove the tick.
  • It’s important that you don’t touch or play with the tick with your fingers. Doing so can squish the tick and force its blood and germs into your skin. Your goal is to remove the whole tick (including its head) and avoid squishing the blood and germs into your skin.
  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull straight upwards firmly.
  • Get rid of the live tick by putting it in rubbing alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
  • Wash the bite area with warm water and soap.
  • For the next few weeks, pay close attention to any symptoms of tick-borne diseases that may show up. What are some of the early symptoms again? Skin rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dizziness. If these do appear, contact your physician.

We urge all residents to take a proactive approach to reducing habitat for ticks and mosquitoes in your backyard and guard against bites and diseases during the summer season and throughout the year.

Tick-borne Diseases and Risks

Tick-borne diseases that are common in New Jersey are:

  • Anaplasmosis - caused by Black-legged “deer” tick. (Learn more.)
  • Babesiosis - caused by Black-legged “deer” tick. (Learn more.)
  • Ehrlichiosis- caused by American dog tick and the Lone star tick. (Learn more.)
  • Lyme disease - caused by Black-legged “deer” tick. (Learn more.)
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever – caused by American dog tick (Learn more.)
  • Alpha-gal Syndrome - carried in the saliva of the lone star tick may be triggered by its bite and perhaps that of the Black-legged tick. (Learn more.)

Regardless of the number, or type, of ticks this season, all New Jerseyans need to be aware that ticks are in the outdoor areas that they frequent and that everyone needs to take steps to protect themselves. 

Household Pets

Don’t forget to include your household pets in your vigilance against tick borne diseases.  They can get tick borne diseases too.  Be sure to check with your veterinarian to learn how to protect your pet.

Additional Tick Resources



[2]  See  2002 study in the Journal of American Mosquito Control.