Updated: May 15, 2022
Yes it's time. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power. It's time to learn about these prevalent parasites that we find outdoors. You can bike or run fast, but you can't hide from these sneaky little devils.
I was recently on a local hike, when my friend Meg stopped me in my tracks because she saw something on the back of my pants. Come to find out, there were a lot of "somethings" on my pants. I had apparently walked through a tick farm (tick factory?) and they were all over me. Did I freak out? Of course, on the inside. But I took some deep breaths as both of us pulled tick after tick...after tick, off of my sticky stretch pants.
That night, I told my husband about the experience, and he said it was supposed to be a "banner year for ticks". My mind envisioned a line of ticks holding a banner reading, "We have you outnumbered dogs and people. Suckas!"
Then came the colossal list of questions needing answers.
Is there a natural spray that repels ticks? Is there one for dogs?
Do ticks sometimes hang out in large groups? How could I suddenly have so many of them on me? Are there nests??
Could I have dressed differently for the occasion? Maybe wearing something other than black stretch pants, for example?
What if my dog brings ticks into the car and they end up in there? How long can they live in my car? How do I even find ticks in a furry, gigantic dog??
When should you seek treatment for Lyme Disease?
Are tick's related to spiders? This question came from my husband. He clearly is not concerned about tick borne illness, but he did ask an interesting question.
The first thing I did was call my friend Shannon Sirois. She is a physical therapist, who knows a lot about Lyme and all things health related. She helped me answer my biggest question, the first one.
Question 1: Tick repellent?
Shannon told me about a natural spray called Cedarcide. She first learned about it from her friend who works at Through the Trees in Freeport. They apparently apply it on their students who spend all day outdoors and it seems to do the job. Shannon now uses it on her dog Thor, and it works like a charm. Here's the link: https://cedarcide.com/
Question 2: Do ticks work in groups?
I never found an answer to this one. I'll stick with my original theory: I walked into a tick factory.
Question 3: What to wear to best find ticks?
Wearing light colored clothing is the easiest thing to do. Don't wear black like I did...the sneaky suckers blend right in. You can also treat your gear and clothing with Permethrin. Sawyer's Permethrin Spray is one option that is supposed to be odorless and safe for dogs (after it has dried). Here's a link: https://www.sawyer.com/products/permethrin-fabric-treatment
Question 4: Ticks in cars? And furry dogs?
I learned that ticks do not survive long in the dry environment inside of a car. Note, remove your child's damp socks hiding under the seat before assuming the air inside of your car is dry. Park in the sun to increase the temperature inside your car. Then vacuum it.
Here is some info on how to safely remove a tick. In the same blog post, is a video on how to locate ticks on your dog: https://cedarcide.com/blogs/guides/how-to-safely-remove-tick
Question 5: Are ticks related to spiders?
The instructor for my recent Wilderness First Aid training told us that he carries doxycycline on him at all times, and will take a dose as soon as he's found a tick in his skin. He said it kills Lyme right away and he just doesn't want to take any chances. He doesn't wait for symptoms. Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease. My dog was recently on it for the second time and it did the trick. This is a very personal decision, so I'll let you make this one for yourself.
Answer to Question 6: Are ticks related to spiders?
Yes. Ticks are part of the arachnid family. They have four pairs of legs, no antennae, and are terrifying.
There you have it. The good, bad and ugly. There is so much information out there, but I really didn't want to overwhelm you. This will just get you started. Stay tuned for a follow up post about safe treatments of Lyme disease, by Shannon Sirois.