I was reminded yesterday that we’re entering tick season! A walk around the yard, to the mailbox and then up to the vet for the granddogs’s meds resulted in three ticks traversing my leg! I normally spray with a Deet-free lemon eucalyptus repellent in the dryer summer. In the spring, I use a permethrin-based spray (heavily on boots and pant legs but not skin), especially when I’m gardening. Time to get it out!
The state’s tick page is a great resource. The images of blacklegged or deer ticks (that carry Lyme Disease, Powassan virus and more) and dog ticks in real size are instructive. The nymph stage of the blacklegged tick is about the size of a black pepper flake from the shaker! The chances of you seeing/feeling a nymph are much less than a dog tick, which results in an increased chance of infection.
Keeping the grass mowed and staying out of fields helps prevent becoming a tick transport. Watch out for gardens, too. It’s unfortunate that deer like day lilies, roses, raspberries, hosta and other popular plants. Where there are white tailed deer, there ticks and Lyme disease in Maine.
Hiking in the woods on narrow trails should mean consistent tick checks. Be very careful about sitting in leaf litter, because the nymphs overwinter there and are very difficult to spot.
There is a lot of great information about yard care, plantings, repellents, pet care and testing available. And just because you don’t go into tick territory doesn’t mean a pet (or grandchild) isn’t bringing these tiny pests into your home.
Tick Disease Treatment
If you have fatigue, joint pain or other symptoms of Lyme (even if you never spotted the tell-tale bull’s eye rash) ask your doc for a Lyme test. Some doctors in Maine will treat for Lyme based on your location and symptoms, because it’s so prevalent, and the treatment is standard antibiotics. In fact, last year my doc prescribed Lyme treatment based on my description of an embedded bug and the small pink circle surrounding it. Two simple pills and I didn’t have to worry about Lyme, from that encounter at least. (I live in Freeport, which has loads of Lyme.)
Take an hour and read through the Maine site. Learning about ticks and tick-born diseases will help you better enjoy this summer!