Archive for May, 2015

Ticks set off CSS

May 7, 2015

Despite our singularly cold winter, with signs that more moose calves have survived, Deer ticks seem to be more abundant than ever. Four ticks hopped on me during yesterday’s hike in the woods and set off a round of CSS (Can’t Stop Scratching.) We were hiking on Black Cap Mountain, enjoying the yellow wood violets, wild oats, spring beauties, and painted trilliums and stopped for lunch at a panoramic viewpoint of the Presidentials on a grassy knoll.

The local tick population must have been ecstatic with so many hosts to choose from and no one had liquid soap on hand to apply with a cotton ball so the ticks would fall off in 15-20 seconds. We knew enough not to squeeze the ticks to remove them so there was a lot of nail maneuvering to pick off the offenders.

To know what we’re dealing with and how to prevent bites, it helps to understand the life cycle of the Deer tick and what it needs to survive. The tick gets its name because the preferred host is a deer. Adult ticks feed on the deer’s blood, mate and, once the female eggs are fertilized, both the male and female die and drop to the ground where the eggs hatch to larva. The larva seeks a new host, a mouse or whoever is handy. The larvae molt to nymphs and continue to feed on mouse blood and other small mammals. Ticks are usually found on grasses, waiting for other victims, like us and deer, to pass.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picaridin, and Permethrin for insect repellants. All are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past, readers responded that 7% or 30% DEET had not served as a protection from tick bites for them. Products with 99% DEET, commonly used by hunting and fishing people seemed to have more success. However, Permethrin is the insecticide that people are finding effective against tick bites. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the flowers of a species of the Chrysanthemum plant. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide whose chemical structure is based on natural pyrethrum. As an insecticide, it is currently sold as a 0.5% Permethrin Pump Spray.

When used as directed, Permethrin appears to have no harmful effect on the environment. It is NOT used on the skin. It is sprayed on your clothes (shirt, pants, socks, everything but your underwear) and one treatment will last up to six launderings or six weeks before clothing has to be treated again. You need to wash the sprayed clothes between wearings or check the product label for specific instructions.

Other readers have found Permethrin Tick Tubes to be effective, especially if you live in a wooded/grassy area, have pets, and need protection right in your own yard. Tick Tubes are designed for the little critters. The tubes are biodegradable cardboard tubes filled with permethrin-treated cotton balls. Mice gather the cotton for their nests. Deer ticks intending to feed on the mice are then killed when the mice return to their nests. However, the mice and other mammals are not harmed. Put these tubes around your yard and the mice will love you for it. Caution needs to be taken that children do not take them apart out of curiosity and handle the cotton.

If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check your local camping or hunting supply store. Otherwise, both products are available on line.

IMPORTANT CAUTIONS: DEET comes in varying strengths and preparations, in roll-ons, sprays and liquid. If applied to the skin (which hikers and gardeners often do,) it needs to be thoroughly washed off with soap and water when home safely. DEET is potentially toxic. Body checking, especially the head and hairline, remains a must. Our heads have a rich supply of blood just under the surface. Check and re-check each other after time spent in tick-infested areas, especially if near grasses; get out of your clothes, do a complete body check, and shower well. Wash clothes to avoid spreading ticks to your home. Check pets routinely. Walk on the center of trails and save bushwhacking for winter. And don’t sit on a nice soft clump of grass to eat your lunch!

Permethrin is ONLY applied to clothing, NEVER to the skin. It is highly toxic to humans but safe when applied to clothing and not when clothing is being worn. For safety, clothing is sprayed according to specific directions on the bottle and left to dry for 2 hrs. before wearing. One reader has a separate bag he stores Permethrin sprayed clothes in between wearings.

A Deer Tick may only be the size of a sesame seed but if it has been sucking your blood, it will swell up much larger. If you are bitten and the tick has been on you for more than 24 hrs, or if you develop a fever, chills, headache, muscle & joint pain, fatigue, rash or any other symptom that seems odd for you, bring yourself and the tick to your health provider.

Time to spread the word and send in suggestions for what works for you. Thanks!

The Value of Seeing Others Happy

May 1, 2015

I just read Russ Roberts’ eye-opening book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. The book is about Adam Smith’s real message to us. Smith, who wrote, The Wealth of Nations, a book that seemed to be the backbone of what has evolved as our US business model, had something far more potent in mind than the idea of creating corporate monopolies.

Smith wrote an earlier book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, detailing his philosophy on the futility of pursuing money with the hope of finding happiness. Rather, it is our interest in the good fortune of others that brings us pleasure.

It is not enough to make a lot of money, get ahead and acquire. We need to sense that we are contributing to the health and well-being of others, that the way we make our money must not leave others miserable.

This week, signs that we are waking up, are encouraging. Lisbon’s zoning board denied the asphalt company’s move to relocate in Lisbon because the town has a rule that no pollution can result from plant operations. The Army Corps of Engineers has just told Canadian hydropower that it has to bury it’s VT/NY line deeper to meet safety regulations, which will raise the cost possibly beyond what Canada is willing to pay for someone else’s safety.

People are signing up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships that assure them GMO-free produce this season. More organic produce is being offered at grocery stores. Workshops on composting, and planning home gardens are lining up. Northern Pass Opposition, now in it’s fifth year, is growing stronger as Hydro Quebec’s empty promises unfold. Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District (PVWSD) has followed the Bristol Library’s lead with a solar array.

More research is coming in that documents the effects of GMO seed, food and pesticides that erode the health of humans, animals and wildlife. Follow-up studies document a return to health when GMO-free food is resumed (see Jane Goodall, Seeds of Hope).

Harry Hintlian, who vacations in our area, manages Reforest The Tropics (RTT), a UN sanctioned carbon sequestration program in Costa Rica to replant the rainforest. These scientifically planted forests absorb over 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to temperate zone forests. This project is supported by companies committed to 100 percent balancing of their carbon footprint.

Bottom line is: how can our efforts bring a better deal for everyone? Therein lies the possibility for real happiness.