Warmer weather is officially on the approach - and as we wait for the summer months, members of the public are being warned to keep an eye out for ticks.
Gardening experts BillyOh.com are urging the public to take care when they are out and about, due to a dramatic increase in the number of ticks in the past 10 years.
There are more than 22 species of the creature in the UK alone, and they become active from the start of spring through to mid-autumn.
While the majority feed on wild animals, some are known to cling onto family pets and can bite at the ankles of humans.
They are often found clinging to tall grass and shrubs, and can spread bacteria when feeding which must be treated.
Brits have been urged to take caution as the warm weather approaches, encouraging ticks to emerge and feed on the blood of passing humans and animals.
Here are some top tips from the firm on how to stay safe.
1. Stick to paths
Try not to stray from paths and avoid overhanging vegetation unless necessary. Ticks do not jump or fly so sticking to clear areas without tall grass or shrubs will decrease the chances of being bitten. If in an area where there is no footpath, try and avoid tall grass or shady areas that are surrounded by shrubs.
2. Light clothing
When in areas of woodland remained covered, wear long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers. Protect areas such as the back of the knees, armpits and the groin. Opt for light-coloured clothing in order to easily identify any ticks present that may become attached.
Wellies are not only reserved for rainy days and are perfect when in high risk areas, as you can tuck trousers into the boots. Tucking trousers into socks is also a great defence mechanism if wellies are not an option.
4. Regular checks
Ticks are very small and hard to identify when not paying attention. Check regularly whilst outside and also when home in order to remove any feeding ticks. The longer a tick is left attached the harder it is to remove.
5. Right tools
Avoid any home remedies to try and remove ticks such as covering the affected area of the body in Vaseline or nail varnish or even burning them off. Instead, use a tick removal tool. This will help avoid aggravating the tick and lower the risk of secondary infection. When removed, use an antiseptic wipe and be aware of any symptoms of Lyme disease.
A spokesperson from BillyOh.com added: “It’s vital to be educated on the risks of these tiny critters, as if you’re bitten and it’s not treated correctly, this can potentially result in serious consequences.
“Following a few simple tips can lower the risk of being bitten by a tick dramatically and prevent further health issues.”