Ticks – Ick!

The one thing my kids (and I) unanimously agree upon in regards to country life is that we do not like the ticks! The level of repulsion varies from a mildly irritated resignation to such a deep disgust that the only rational response to finding one embedded in your skin seems to be to run around in circles screaming at the top of your lungs “There’s a TICK on me!  Get it off, get it off, get it off!!”  Luckily, as the designated tick plucker, I fall into the first category and so, after tackling the screaming child and providing some comfort object for the victim to clutch during the operation, I remove the offending parasite. Ticks do not squish easily, at least not if you get them before they’ve gone into a feeding frenzy and ballooned up to the size of a pea on your blood, so we deposit them in the toilet or lock them into a jar of water where they drown.

Even with the nasty beastie vanquished one’s body retains the memory of those tiny feet crawling across one’s skin and PTS (phantom tick syndrome) strikes.  You can’t avoid it.  Immediately after finding and plucking the initial tick, your nerves tingle with a crawling sensation and you swear there are more ticks on you.  PTS is worse if you find a tick crawling on you in the middle of the  night and it is imperative that you turn on the light, peel back the covers and even strip off your PJs for a close examination if you ever expect to get back to sleep!

Ticks are not really that threatening being quite small, and their bite doesn’t even hurt (which is why, combined with their size, you tend not to notice them until it’s too late).  They are not on the level of other dangerous animals such as bears or copperhead snakes or bulls in rut and yet they are far more disgusting and repulsive to us.  They are very prevalent in this area and hard to avoid when you live in a house in the forest.  The dogs, outside during the day, in at night, bring them in and even with the thorough pre-bed tick check doesn’t always manage to get all of them.

Ticks aren’t just repulsive – they can actually be dangerous due to the diseases they carry and spread.  These include Lyme disease (on the rise in the U.S.), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis.  Many of these diseases cause flu like symptoms including headache, fever, muscle aches, vomiting and a crater like depression at the bite site.  Some diseases are worse than others and some are harder to effectively treat.

So I’ve been looking for ways to keep ticks away from us and the animals.  The most obvious suggestion “Avoid tick season  completely by staying away from outdoor areas where ticks thrive, usually during  the months of April through September in the U.S.” isn’t really feasible!  That leaves a combination of diligence and chemicals.  “Wear light colored clothing so that ticks are easy to spot, and tuck your long pants into your socks” suggests one website.  Long pants, socks?  In the heat of an Indiana summer?  Time to stock up on bugspray!


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7 Responses to Ticks – Ick!

  1. aves says:

    Get chickens or guinea hens, they consume ticks with great joy and keep your yard tick free. Our chickens share the large outdoor run with the dogs….at times, and the dogs leave the chickens alone, anyway, since they are both occupying the same area (last 4 years), the dogs are not coming inside with ticks anymore. We are not finding ticks on us anymore either…..at least not while on home property.

  2. Susan Brown says:

    I saw this on a Girl Scout FB page – home made replant, save for humans and animals:

  3. wondering says:

    I don’t live in tick country, so take this with a grain of salt: many of the FB feeds I follow say that guinea fowl are great at reducing tick populations.


  4. hdware says:

    Long pants tucked into socks help, as do those bed-time (or just in from play) checks. I keep a spray bottle of dog flea and tick killer pump-spray handy, too–for the dogs, one or twice for me!

    I hate to use the chemicals, but it beats the ticks. I also treat the yard around my house and garden fence (I spare the plants, though–no sense eating the insecticide.

    I second what MyLife says–no-one can afford to deal with Lyme Disease.

  5. Amanda says:

    We have been thinking of making soap with citronella and tea tree oil in it to help with bugs. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet tho.

  6. bogart says:

    We live in the US SE where we also struggle with ticks, and I’ve learned the value with a kid of pre-bed check where he stripw and I check front and back, plus arms over head so I can see armpits. That doesn’t address the head, but on a pale skinned kid it works pretty well for everywhere else, however, mine is still pretty little — if yours are adolescents, they may not be so comfortable with that, and if opposite-sex adolescent it may not be appropriate (OTOH as adolescents they can probably take on more responsibility for checking themselves!).

    For the dogs, we use canine Advantage (and there are other products). Though typically these require a prescription they are also often available through ebay without one. They don’t prevent tick bites, but the product, which you apply to the outside of the dog (rub into its skin between the shoulder blades) gets into the dog’s bloodstream and kills ticks once they bite. It does seem to work and should reduce the likelihood of your dogs bringing ticks into your house in a condition to drop off the dog and bite you. In my experience, the product works longer than its advertised span, so even one application at the height of tick season could help; I know you’re on limited resources, but may be worth it if you can find some at a (relatively) affordable price.

  7. My Life says:

    Please be very, very careful when it comes to tick bits. Once embedded, within a few hours, you may contract Lyme disease. It often goes undiagnosed and oftentimes before it is too late. My husband had the disease twice and if left untreated can result in neurological disorders. Especially in children. You will feel achy and tired and think it is something else. Some children become paralyzed. That’s what happened to my two dogs. They were saved with strong, strong antibiotics BUT, they were never the same.

    Bugspray doesn’t help. Long pants tucked into socks does. You don’t have the money it will take to cure this disease. Antibiotics cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Please be vigilant. I sometimes find teeny, tiny ticks embedded in my neck and legs, BUT I always catch them in time before their bites give me Lyme.

    Be careful. It’s NOT fun!!!!

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