I’m getting ticked off! But I’m not mad, I’m trying to tick proof or at least reduce our exposure to them. With Spring everything is waking up; including ticks. I grew up in an area with dog ticks and it didn’t bother me. But now there are tiny black legged ticks ( also know as deer ticks) that can transmit diseases like Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. Black legged ticks are prolific here is the northeast, especially the Hudson Valley region where we live. Researchers says about 40% of the ticks in our area carry the bacteria that causes lyme disease and it takes at least 24 hours to be transmitted. So every time you get bit does not mean you will be infected.
Ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level and are more active in the Spring and Fall. Their first blood meal comes curtesy of field mice where they can pick up the bacteria that causes lyme disease. They drop off and will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. Waiting for their next host to pass by.
Fighting the urge to hide inside I try to wear light-colored clothing and check my clothes for ticks periodically. If I’m going into the woods I may use an insect repellant, like OFF!. I have also had some success with Tea Tree oil, Lemon eucalyptus oil and Neem( Chia is not a big fan of them though) diluted on my clothes or skin.
If I know ticks are active where I have been I’ll take a shower and check for ticks as soon as I get in. But since our home is on the edge of the woods, I pretty much try to check for ticks every night. When we do find a tick, we try to evaluate how long it has been attached. If we think it is longer than 24 hours we might go to the Doctor. One thing I have started doing is saving the tick and using clear tape, attaching it to a card with the name of the person it was found on, where it was found and the date. If we have questionable symptoms within the next 30 days we can have the saved tick tested.
Another thing I have been working on is reducing mice since they are the source of lyme disease.
If you haven’t already read more than you wanted on ticks and lyme disease here is a great resource. Tick Encounter Resource Center