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  • cindybynature

My Tick Manifesto

In nature, we never say always or never. There are always exceptions. What we know changes over time.

What is written below is based on my own personal experience. I’m not a tick or medical expert. I have just collected knowledge from my own experience and share it as a resource that you can add to and change based on your own experience. I welcome feedback and input on this so that I can continue to build my own knowledge-base on this topic.

 

Tick Habitat:

Anytime the weather is over 35 degrees, I am alert to ticks. Below that temperature, they generally go into dormancy.

 

In my observation, they prefer more dry, rather than wet, conditions. They seem to be most populated in areas where there are a lot of deer. However, any mammal can carry them.

 

They place themselves on surfaces that stick out, like tall grasses, shrubs, edges of litter. They wait for mammals to come by and sense their heat. When a mammal passes by, they grab on. They don’t jump or fly. They outstretch their arms to grasp a passer-by. If the mammal is still, they will crawl onto them. Knowing all this, you can be aware of where a good place for them to be is and avoid those places or just be more diligent when you are in one of those places. If you stay on the trail, without brushing against vegetation, your odds are much lower for coming into contact with a tick.

 

There are several different species of ticks, but where we live I mostly find deer (or black legged) and dog ticks. Deer ticks are prone to carrying dangerous diseases like lyme. They are smaller. Dog ticks are not known to carry dangerous diseases. Here is a little graphic that shows different tick species and how to identify (for better resolution, click on photo for original source). I just recently started seeing lone-star ticks in the area, but they are more rare.



Tick Repellant:

A few times a year, I treat my most common outer layers (jacket, vest, boots) with permethrin spray. It is a toxic chemical that you don’t want to breath or get on your skin. I put on gloves, glasses and mask up when I do treat my items. I take them all outside on a sunny day and spray them. Let them dry completely and then you can handle them again with bare hands. It lasts for 6 weeks or 6 washings.

 

I have a naturalist friend who swears by eucalyptus oil. She creates a mixture of eucalyptus and water in a spray bottle and sprays her shoes and outer clothing when she takes her dogs on forest walks. Sometimes I will add this to my mix if I know I’m going to be in contact with tick territory.

 

Clothing:

Making it hard for a tick to access your skin layer is the best defense. That means wearing pants, long socks that overlap the pants, tall boots, long sleeves, hat. Anything that slows them down.

 

When I finish a hike, I take my hands and sweep the surface of my outer layers. This can knock any tick off who is crawling on the surface but hasn’t made it under your layers.

 

It takes a while for them to find skin so time is often your advantage. If you get home from a hike and have time to change clothes and shower, you can knock off any ticks that are trying to find you.

 

The dryer will kill ticks, so you can throw clothes in the dryer after a hike to eliminate risk.

 

Wearing white or lighter color clothing makes them easier to spot since they have dark bodies.

 

Tick Check:

Ticks crawl along the surface of clothing until they can find access to skin. I have noticed they are most commonly found close to those areas where they could access. On the belly, where the pants and shirt meet. On the backs of the knees or calves where pants or shorts end. Pay close attention to those boundaries of where clothing ends and skin begins.

 

They tend to end up on the more tender skin areas. One tick expert I’ve heard says “check your crevices”.

 

If Tick Found:

If you find one attached within 24 hours, the risk of any disease transmission is significantly reduced.

 

When they attach, they look like moles on the body. If you look closely, you can often make out their legs.

 

At different stages of their growth, they are different sizes. They can be as tiny as the period at the end of this sentence. This is a great image of how small they can be: 



 

They attach with their mouth so their head will try to burrow a bit into the skin. They use a very strong glue to attached.

 

To remove, you want to grab them with tweezers at the head part that is attached to the body. If you just pull from the back, they will just break apart due to that glue at their mouth.

 

We have had this happen before and it’s no reason to panic. The most important thing is to remove as much of the tick as possible. If there is still a part in the body, you can see a doctor on if they think it is a problem. We have had doctors say just to leave it and treat with antibiotic cream and other doctors have wanted to remove the remaining part with surgical tools. I leave that to the doctors to decide.

 

If you remove a tick and have its full body, you have the option of sending it into a facility to have it tested for disease. I have used this one the most: https://www.tickreport.com

 

I contracted Lyme in 2020. My symptoms were deep fatigue and some flu/cold symptoms like body aches, low fever, sore throat, etc. I took a 3-week course of doxycycline antibiotic. For me, this worked. Once you have Lyme, you will always test positive for Lyme. The test detects the antibodies. Lyme affects different people in different ways. I was fortunate.

For me, whenever I find an attached tick now (which is extremely rare since I have such a good prevention protocol) I take 1 doxycycline pill. This will help combat any low level bacterial transmission, but not disturb my gut flora like a full course of antibiotics.

 

Prevention is key. I don’t always follow the full list of protocol I listed, but I will always have some mixture of these things depending on the weather and where I am.


Some other trusted sources I have to be educated on ticks are:

Passcode: Q&JY2Cq@


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