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Dangerous encounters with wild animals aren't always violent affairs. Some of Mother Nature's most fearsome creatures are capable of administering real harm while going almost completely undetected.

Ticks constitute a real risk for you and your family. These parasitic little bugs harbor harmful disease, and because their bites are usually painless, it's possible to go several days without noticing you've been bitten. To make matters worse, these creatures are usually quite small, meaning avoiding a tick encounter requires real vigilance.

Here's what you need to know about these creatures and how to keep yourself safe from ticks:

What is a tick?

Members of the arachnid family, these parasitic bugs are relatives of spiders and scorpions. There are many species found throughout the world, feeding on the blood of larger animals of all sorts. And beyond wild creatures, ticks are capable of infecting livestock, pets and even humans.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, these animals are notorious for harboring Lyme disease, a dangerous type of infection. There are many other harmful pathogens and bacteria that can live inside of the bugs, and because ticks feed directly on a host creature's blood, it's very easy for infection to spread.

Where do ticks like to hide

Ticks are usually found in long grass or brush. This offers cover from birds and other predators, but also gives the bugs an opportunity to latch on to passing animals. Unlike fleas, ticks crawl right onto a host, and tall grass or branches give ticks better access.

Leaf litter is another place to find ticks, especially because this offers warmth and moisture for the bugs. In the winter, an insulating layer of snow and the heat from decaying leaves help ticks survive frigid conditions.

What should I do if I see a tick?

No matter the season, do your best to avoid the kind of areas that are most likely to harbor ticks. If you spend an afternoon doing yard work or come home from a hike, you could accidentally be bringing ticks into your home.

Always take the time to conduct a thorough tick check. Look all over your body for these tiny bugs, as they can climb in and under your clothes before biting down.

As the University of Rhode Island's Tick Encounter Resource Center stated, if you have been bitten, the best way to remove a tick is to use a pair of tweezers. Grab the animal by the head, or else you could accidentally leave the jaws burrowed into your skin. Always preserve the animal on a piece of tape, and if your skin becomes irritated or discolored, bring the tick to the doctor for testing.

What are other risks?

Your children or your pets might not notice a tick on their body, and this is problematic for two reasons. First, unless you help them look for these bugs, they may not discover an issue. After any time spent outdoors, conduct a thorough inspection.

This step is key, because if you neglect to do so, ticks could spread inside your home. The bugs may not make it past your child's clothing or your dog's thick fur. Instead, a second problem can occur. The ticks could simply find refuge in your carpet or furniture and later wait for a new opportunity to strike.

In order to avoid any risk, start by keeping your yard as clean and tidy as possible. Remove any piles of leaves and trim bushes and other plants.

Consult a pest control specialist on tips for eliminating ticks and other unwanted animals from getting comfortable on your property.

Abell Pest Control is a family owned Canadian company dedicated to providing effective, professional and courteous service in pest management.Started in 1924 with one office, Abell now employs several hundred people with branch offices across Canada and the United States.

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