Ah, summer, you've been missed. We've been, er, itching for warmer days, weekend getaways and patio barbecues. Our days are soon to be exploding with afternoon happy hours, days on the lake, outdoor concerts and time with family and friends. If you couldn't tell, we cannot wait for summer to officially start.
But, 'tis the season for ticks and mosquitoes, both of which experts say will be worse than before. If Lyme disease isn't enough to worry about, there's a scary virus on the rise -- and it's concerning health professionals across the nation.
The Powassan virus (POW) is much worse than Lyme disease, partially because of its devastating health effects like brain swelling, disability or even death, which accounts for 10 percent of all cases. And while it can take a tick nearly a day to pass on Lyme disease, POW can be transferred to a host in as little as 15 minutes.
Although most POW cases have been reported in the Great Lakes and Northeast, everyone should know how to protect themselves from ticks. From the type of socks to wear to the types of flowers to plant, here's how you can protect yourself.
Scroll through below to learn 10 smart ways to protect yourself against ticks:
How to avoid tick bites
How to avoid tick bites
1. Stay in the middle of the path
When hiking, make sure to stay in the middle of the path. Weeds, grass and trees make it easier for ticks to crawl onto you. Don't venture out to the grass or bushes, where ticks are formidable to be hiding.
2. Wear long pants and closed toed shoes
Protect your skin. Adding an extra layer makes it more difficult to latch on to you. It's smart to wear pants, long sleeves and hats, especially in the summer.
3. Invest in deer-resistant plants.
Since ticks feed on and are transported by deer, try looking into deer-resistant plants. French marigolds, rosemary, mint and crape myrtle are just some of the greens deer tend to "overlook".
See a complete list of the herbs and flowers here.
4. Check your dog!
Dogs can literally bring ticks right to your front door. Prevent ticks by keeping their coats short in the summer. Use your hands to check the fur, stopping if you feel a pea-sized bump. Favorite spots ticks like to hide include the ears, toes and under the tail.
Dog ticks don't "harbor diseases that sicken people", but you should still be wary.
5. Yes, repellant can help.
According to TickenEncounter, spray with DEET does not provide "sufficient" protection. Get spray for your clothes like Permethrin, which instantly kills ticks.
6. Dry your clothes
The CDC recommends tumble drying clothes immediately for ten minutes after you've been outside. Ticks can easily "dry out" with high heat, but you should make sure the clothes are completely dry.
Warning: Ticks can survive the wash.
7. Tuck your pants into your socks.
This covers the small, easily accessible space in between your pants and ankles. Especially if you are sitting, it makes it easier for ticks to latch on.
8. Stay in the sun.
Since ticks survive in shady, humid environments, researchers agree that staying in the sun lowers the risk for ticks. According to LiveScience, ticks "can't survive" in places with lower than 80% humidity.
9. Invest in Permethrin socks
The chemical is successful in protecting against ticks, mosquitoes and other types of bites. Lymedisease.org estimates that permethrin-treated footwear offered 74 times the protection from bites.
10. Mow your lawn
Cut your grass, clean your yard, get rid of any extra firewood or wood chips.