Creepy crawly things give me the creeps! But still, my daughters remind me regularly that bugs are part of nature and they are more afraid of us than we are of them. “We are bigger than them, you know mom?” And so, if a four-legged friend happens to make his or her way into our home, we simply escort them out and cross our fingers that they don’t find their way back in.
There are a few exceptions to our general rule to let bugs be bugs. Perhaps top on the list of these exceptions is the infamous and seemingly more abundant tick! I detest ticks and always have.
I can still remember my first run-in with a tick like it was yesterday. I was just a kid, probably in 3rd grade or so. I was visiting my aunt in Connecticut (at the time, I lived in New York). I was getting ready for gymnastics camp one morning and as I was brushing my teeth, I was horrified to see my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I noticed a rather large brown bump on my forehead and was certain that I had grown a mole overnight! I can remember being upset and crying. Despite Cindy Crawford being all the rage at the time, I did not want a mole on my face!
My aunt knew right away that I did not grow a mole but instead had a blood-sucking tick attached to my skin. Lucky for me, she was able to remove the tick (another story for another day) without too many issues and life went on as usual. I had a great day at camp and did not grow any more moles!
Since then, I have found ticks on my dog, on my husband, on my kids, climbing up my walls, and on our clothes. I love being outdoors but I am constantly worried about someone being bitten by a tick and contracting Lyme Disease.
I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about ticks now that the weather is finally starting to warm up. One thing that I’ve heard is that this year in particular, will be a bad tick season in New England. The ticks have apparently been protected by a “blanket” of snow for most of the Winter and therefore were not exposed to the elements that would have normally killed many of them. So this year more than ever, you need to be vigilant when you head outdoors!
Cover your body with tall socks or pants and long sleeves and wear light colors so that ticks will be easy to spot. You can also use repellent if you know your adventures will lead you into the woods where ticks are likely to be thriving. If you are concerned about using products that contain DEET, picaradin and permethrin, lemon eucalyptus oil has also proven to be an effective repellent against ticks but is not recommended for children under 3.
If you are concerned that ticks may be on your clothing when you come inside from outdoor play, place the clothes in the dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes. I recently learned that this should dry up and kill any ticks that have hitched a ride inside on your attire. Ticks cannot live without moisture, so even though they could survive a run through the washer, the dryer should be effective. I have not tried this yet but will be putting our clothes in the dryer as a precaution after our next hike.
Please get out there and enjoy nature but BEWARE and BE PREPARED for ticks!
Disclaimer: I am not a tick expert. The information above is based on research gathered from various media sources and my own personal experiences.
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