Outdoors: With warmth comes the threat of ticks
With the weather finally warming up to normal temperatures for this time of year, folks will be out and about after suffering from cabin fever.
While the much needed warming trend is upon us, so are ticks. Both wood ticks and deer ticks, the latter being more difficult to spot because of their tiny size. Experts are expecting a potential tick explosion with the warm weather and the bloodthirsty critters will be in abundance this summer. The exports say ticks will be looking for a host that walks by so they can latch themselves onto them and your pets.
And for those who say ‘I’m not going into the woods,’ you don’t have to. It’s true that ticks are highly concentrated in rural, woodland areas. But they can be found practically anywhere in North America and in places you’d least expect them to be.
A close friend who lives in Shimerville, Lehigh County, and far from the any appreciable woodlands, got infected last summer by a tick from his well-manicured lawn and small backyard vegetable garden. He got the ‘bull’s-eye’ mark on his skin that usually denotes a tick infection. And he subsequently developed a case of Lyme disease for which he had to get antibiotic treatments. However, some bitten folks never get the bull’s-eye mark, so check yourself.
Spring turkey hunters are particularly susceptible to ticks as most sportsmen sit on the ground or short stool to hunt gobblers. This makes it easy for a tick or ticks to crawl up the pants legs or shirt sleeves and down collars.
Hikers as well, are liable to pick up a tick as they walk past brush, weeds, fallen limbs and especially when they stop for a rest.
There are a few ways to avoid getting bit by ticks this summer. Here are some suggestions from the folks who know:
*Wear Enough Clothing - Sure you don’t exactly like wearing long sleeve shirts and pants when it’s 90 degrees outside. But both are the best way to avoid picking up any micro-sized hitchhikers. And when doing so, many turkey hunters in particular, put rubber bands around the openings of your shirt and pant cuffs. A few companies also sell tick gaiters that slide up over the pant cuffs. Buttoning the top button on your shirt (oh no) can help keep Mr. Tick out.
*Sprays and Repellents - With or without the long sleeves and pants, a good tick repellent can also help prevent tick bites. The better repellents are ones that contain DEET. But read the instructions before applying because some repellents should not be used on bare skin. It’s also advisable to wear a hat so spray that thoroughly.
*Check Yourself for Ticks - A close inspection of your skin is always recommended after being outdoors. Wood ticks are larger and easier to see or feel, particularly in your hair. But deer ticks appear as tiny black spots and are often confused as a freckle. A shower allows a closer inspection especially hidden areas such as the groin, under the arms and head.
*Don’t Presume Your Backyard is Safe - Ticks can be found in your lawn, especially if you live next to or near woodlots and have deer visit your property. There are sprays that can be purchased that mix with water in a hose sprayer attachment to kill the little buggers in your lawn. Ticks can also be in city parks, like Trexler Park in Allentown where I have seen deer during the rutting period.
Taking tick precautions now saves the serious problem of Lyme disease and its after effects.