Tick Talk

Living in southern Indiana, we all have our fair share of the woods, eventually. We don’t get too far into the warm months without starting to wonder how bad the ticks are going to be this year and perhaps a refresher on the subject would prove helpful to all. In Indiana, there are numerous species of ticks while three are common. The most common is the American Dog Tick described as large and slow and ranging in color from grey to dark brown. The next is the Lonestar (also called Seed, Turkey, and Deer) Tick. It is smaller than the American Dog Tick and the female of the species has a white spot in the center of her back. Leaving the Black-Legged Tick, which is considered the most feared because these tiny, mahogany-colored oval-shaped ticks, can be carriers of Lyme disease. They established themselves in Indiana in 1987 and are found to prefer feeding on mice, small rodents, and white-tailed deer. Still, fear over ticks is nevertheless due to the possible diseases they can transmit due to their parasitic nature. Besides, Lyme disease, ticks are also responsible for Mountain Spotted-Fever, Ehrilchlosis, and Anaplasmosis. Symptoms from any of these can include spreading rashes, headaches, fatigue, fevers, and muscle aches but these are rare.
Our Entomologists on staff recommend that if bitten, save the tick in any closable container and label it with date and time.
Of course, please seek medical attention if anyone were to experience unusual symptoms after being bitten by a tick. The proper way to remove a tick is to use tweezers (as close to the skins surface as possible), then pull upward with steady even pressure (don’t twist or jerk because the mouthparts can get left in the skin-if they do, try to remove with tweezers), clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub, or/and soap and water. Avoid folklore remedies such as petroleum jelly or heat to get the tick to detach. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible not waiting for detachment.
To best avoid ticks, stay away from wooded or bushy areas, high grass, and leaf litter and when hiking, walk in the center of trails. If these areas are not avoided, as we always say, prevention is best! This includes long pants and long-sleeved shirt (tucking shirt into pants and pants into socks), using repellants (20% Deet or above- always follow directions on the bottle and apply product avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth), and always do an inspection check when leaving the woods (look in and around ears, belly button, behind knees, between legs, around waist and especially the hair). The examination should also include gear and pets. Camp clothes and blankets should be dried in the dryer on high heat for an hour.
Never forget our canine friends! It is often that dogs are the first to suffer from tick problems and tick-borne infections are a more serious risk for canines. We recommend that you ask your veterinarian about anti-tick prevention products and determine a treatment program for the months of April through September in Indiana. For more information about ticks, see www.CDC.gov/ticks. So that’s the tick tock and we hope it just ticks away!