A Toronto woman is warning people to look out for ticks after finding several of them and her two dogs last week.
Michelle Snyder, who lives in the Long Branch neighborhood south of Etobicoke, said she has pulled between 25 and 30 of her two dogs, Gogo and Heavy D, and from herself in the past seven days.
“My experience was horrific and nightmarish,” Snyder said on Wednesday.
“They’ve taken over my yard. They’ve taken over my house. It’s a health concern for both my dogs and I’m living in hell, honestly.”
Snyder said she was bitten by two ticks last year and saw a few on her dogs two years ago. But this year she says she was bitten by five, all of them ticks, in the past week. Three years ago, she said she didn’t even know what a tick looked like.
Now, she is actively researching possible solutions to what appears to be a tick infestation in her backyard and surrounding neighborhood.
“Just check for yourself,” Snyder said Wednesday. “Check yourself a few times a day.”
Snyder said the ticks in her backyard have grown so many, she can’t get past the deck. She posted a video on Facebook containing two packs of ticks to warn her neighbors. One jar contains a single tick crawling inside, while the other jar contains many ticks clustered near the bottom.
“It’s scary,” she said. “I’m at a mental breaking point now.”
“I put them on my shoulder, on my hip, when I get up in the morning. They’re in my bed. It’s creepy.”
I’ve put together a topical solution for both dogs that I got from my vet but they don’t think it works. She said she checks herself and her dogs at least three times a day.
The Toronto Public Health Authority (TPH) said in a statement on Wednesday that it cannot yet determine whether tick numbers are increasing in Toronto.
TPH started this year’s tick control program. She says she only monitors one species, the black tick, which carries Lyme disease. The tick monitoring program was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s too early to tell if there are any trends in tick numbers this year,” Dr. Howard Shapiro, director and associate medical officer for health and healthy environments, said in the statement.
Shapiro said the risk of people in Toronto catching a tick carrying Lyme disease is low. He added that the city is addressing the Lyme disease issue through monitoring tick numbers and public awareness.
And he urged residents, when walking or hiking in wooded or dense areas with a lot of leaf or in areas with tall grass, to wear long pants and sleeves and to use insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin.
Shapiro said some areas of the city have established populations of ticks known to carry Lyme disease.
Trane Butler, branch manager at BC Fraser Valley for Orkin Canada, a pest control company, said she believes reduced use of pesticides, combined with warmer climates and an increase in the number of pets during the pandemic, have contributed to what appears to be an expansion in Tick populations across the country.
These days, Orkin Canada is focusing on making environments less suitable for ticks rather than spraying pesticides, she said. This means working with clients to ensure the bushes are cut back. She recommends keeping the lawn short, trimming trees and removing leaf debris promptly.
Butler suggested that, in addition to using insect repellent, people put their pants on their socks, wear closed-toed shoes and their shirt buttons when hiking in the woods or bush, and then check themselves and their pets when they get home.