Archive for the ‘Deer Tick Dilemma’ Category

Early Ticks Generated by a Warm Winter

March 23, 2016

Despite our singularly icy winter, deer ticks seem to be more abundant than ever. They seem to thrive on the periods of warm rain that alternated with snowfall this winter, and are ahead of schedule glomming onto hapless hikers before wildflowers are even up.

Given the high incidence of bone breaks caused by falls on ice covered by an innocent looking dusting of snow, it may be well to wait until the ice is out of the woods to venture in. Just this week the trail up Starr King Mt. was a virtual river of ice a foot thick in some places and an effective bushwhack around it was impossible. Two hikers ended up with bone breaks. On the same day, a hiker slipped going to the lookout on Welch Mt. and had to be rescued with a broken ankle.

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 ONLY 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!

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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!

Nature’s Delights and Lyme Disease

July 19, 2012

CWRACK!! It sounded like a loud thwack to the house one evening. Later, I realized it was the two loaded mouse traps in the attic above my study that hit their mark simultaneously with a gargantuan crack/smack sound.

 What are night traveling mice coming into my house for in June and July? What kind of screwy pattern is this? The current crop doesn’t usually arrive before September. Light bulbs started going off in my mind. The White-Footed Deer Mice like to travel at night and we probably have plenty of them around since 2010 was a mast year (big year for acorns and other nuts to the hearts delight of mice),  followed by a warm 2011 winter.

 With a warm spring and balmy summer weather, lots of people are out walking the woods, to the Deer Tick’s delight. People are generally complaining that they pick a tick or several ticks off them on their rounds.

 Here’s a quick review of this particular pattern of nature we’d do well to keep in mind. First, an adult female Deer  Tick finds a deer or moose for a blood feast, then drops to the ground and lays her eggs (about 3000) under some leaves in the spring. The eggs hatch into larva, peaking in August. The larva then waits on the ground until some small mammal or bird brushes up against it. The larva then attaches itself to it’s host and begins feeding; it engorges itself  with blood.

 If that host happens to be a Lyme-infected White-Footed mouse (the primary source), Oh, Oh!  After feasting, the tick larva drops off, totally infected and carrying the disease. It hangs out among the grasses to move into it’s next stage by fall as a nymph. Then it vacations through winter. However, when spring arrives, Look Out!, the nymph is ready to give Lyme disease to you, me, or some unwary mouse, with the next bite.

 This means that it’s well for us to pick our spots where we walk or hike, with the tiny tick in mind, even it’s just to pop off an open trail for a quick pee or to pick wildflowers (not on protected lands). Often, our hands brush against grasses, pick up a tick and then move to wipe sweat off our face or flick hair off our neck and bingo! The tick scurries to our hairline or some other favorite spot and stops for a meal exchange.

 For prevention, the only real deterrents I’ve found are DEET or Permethrin. Permethrin should only be applied to clothing, following the directions on the container carefully. Permethrin is a heavy duty toxin, toxic to humans as well as ticks but clothing can be washed several times before reapplying. It’s great for gardening or woods work where the same outer clothing can be tossed on for minutes or hours. DEET is best applied to clothing as well, but can be applied to skin, i/.e. hairline (and washed off ASAP after the hike.)  Caution: DEET should not be applied to children’s skin, which is more sensitive to toxins. Deet loses its oomph after a few hours and needs to be reapplied.

 The easiest way to remove a tick is to cover it with a blob of liquid soap. It will disengage.  Lacking that, it’s well to add tweezers to your first aid kit and grasp the tick by its proboscis (the straw-like structure of it’s mouth.)  Avoid squeezing its body, especially if it is engorged with blood because that blood, which may be laden with Lyme, will squirt right back into your body. Always check to be sure the proboscis is out of your skin after you have removed the tick and save the tick in a glass jar or your left-over plastic sandwich bag. Later the tick can be clearly identified, especially if it has been attached for several hours; your health care provider my want to give you a prophylactic antibiotic.

 The effect of the 2010 mast year plus a warm 2011 winter can be seen in more of all the four-leggeds around this year. Lots of mice, mean lots of fox crossing the roads, bears checking out neighborhoods, etc. on up the food chain. All are signs to take care, especially when we see more of nature’s creatures enjoying the earth with us. Stay on the center of all trails or wear whatever protective clothing keeps you safe. And, if you can’t unload traps without touching the mice, wear gloves and double bag them  to dispose of them. Since mice are carriers of many diseases, it’s well to avoid inhaling any dust created in the cleanup.

Deer Tick Time

May 4, 2012

Warm, sunny days are here again, the wildflower parade has started, and we humans have switched to spring mode, glad to leave heavy boots and jackets behind as we make fresh starts into the woods. Ticks are also strutting their finest in this parade and they need to bite friendly hosts to survive. Hopefully they will not bring us a new round of Lyme Disease.

  If you get a bite, here’s an easy way to remove ticks: apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the cotton ball for 15-20 seconds and it will fall off on its own and stick to the cotton ball.

 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 recommends DEET, Picaridin, and Permethrin for insect repellants. All are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past, readers responded that DEET had not served as a protection from tick bites for them. 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.

 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 Pmethrin 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!

 

Spring change of seasons and viruses

April 16, 2012

As we continue adapting to the change of seasons, clearing out sheds and swapping summer equipment for winter, we usually clear spaces in attics, barns and sheds to reorganize storage. Soon we’ll be rummaging around attics for the trappings of the Season of Light, however we celebrate it.

 Spurts of sorting are happening and, amidst all this, some of us have been dealing with the first round of mice looking for winter quarters. Rodents are typically drawn to our storage spaces. Be aware that rodents are carriers of viruses, some of which are deadly, and if we inhale dust from their saliva, urine or scat that they leave behind, we can contract a virus.

 While some rodents, like the white-footed mouse, have been identified as carriers here in the Northeast, they’re all potential carriers of viruses and bacteria.

 Without going overboard, here are a few things we can do.  To avoid breathing in rodent dust, spray any rodent nests or droppings with a solution of disinfectant or bleach, before attempting to clean up. Wear rubber gloves or cover hands with plastic bags to avoid touching what we clean up, and double bag it for the dump.

 Avoid touching dead rodents or birds. Special attention must be given to children who are often fascinated by dead wildlife and need to be forewarned as they explore the wonders of our area.

 Be aware that most of us normally touch our hands to our faces several times an hour (check it out!) Thus, depending on our attention to hand-washing, we risk inhaling organisms that spell trouble.

 It’s up to all of us to make sure that the flu and whatever other viruses hover around us don’t amount to anything in our area this year. It’s all about applying our New England ingenuity.

Deer Tick Time

April 30, 2011

 Warm, sunny days are here again, the wildflower parade has started, and we humans have switched to spring mode, glad to leave heavy boots and jackets behind as we make fresh starts into the woods. Ticks are also strutting their finest in this parade and they need to bite friendly hosts to survive. Hopefully they will not bring us a new round of Lyme Disease.

  If you get a bite, here’s an easy way to remove ticks: apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the cotton ball for 15-20 seconds and it will fall off on its own and stick to the cotton ball.

 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 recommends DEET, Picaridin, and Permethrin for insect repellants. All are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Last year, readers responded that DEET had not served as a protection from tick bites for them. 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.

 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 Pymethrin 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!