Tick tock Hickory Dickory Dock

Article by Arnie P

Tick tock  Hickory Dickory Dock

Nursery rhyme, clock, mouse and ticks.  Oh my!  What do they all have in common.  The ticking of a clock has nothing to do with ticks.  However, it has been a winter with very little snow and that is the kind of winter which usually precedes a bountiful season for ticks.  In that respect, it is timely for an article about ticks and how to find some good information.  Over the years, I have seen many articles on ticks but the one I am sharing is the most informative I have seen.

After doing some internet research and reading about ticks, I learned this information.  Ticks live off the blood of animals.  The early life of a tick is usually spent on mice and small rodents.  When they get older they move to larger animals like deer and humans.  I remember that when I had an outdoor hunting cat, neither the cat nor my family had problems with ticks in my yard which has many trees.  I always thought this was unusual because my neighbors had enough ticks to talk about.  It was then that I suspected that my yard which was almost rodent free was also almost tick free.  This now makes sense to me, now that I have learned that ticks start their life on small rodents.

I have spent a lot of time outdoors.  I am now close to 74 and did not pick up any ticks until the last 10 years.  I think some of the following have helped my situation.  I wear a hat when outside and a long sleeve shirt of some kind.  I mostly wear shorts and keep a close watch for ticks.  In the last few years I have picked up several ticks despite my precautions.  With the exception of 2 ticks I have managed to pull them off before I needed medication.  On these 2 occasions I was prescribed Doxycycline tablets.

Most of the ticks that I have found before they embedded themselves on me were either discovered by feeling a crawling sensation or by observation.  The sooner I found them and the quicker I grabbed them and pulled them off my skin, the easier it was.  The worse place I have been where I picked up several ticks has been in long grass during the early spring.  I was wearing shorts and when I sat in my car a for minutes after the hike the ticks seemed to appear magically on my legs.  At this point they were crawling and very easy to detach.  I had a coffee cup with a lid and a small amount of coffee in it.  I dropped nearly a dozen in the cup.  When I got home I checked and did not find anymore.  To ensure that I was not going to encounter these ticks again which were still moving in the coffee, I put the cup containing them in the microwave oven for 30 seconds.  This stopped them dead.  In the future I will have a small bottle containing household bleach to add to an empty coffee cup.

On the 2 occasions I had to receive medication for my tick bites, I had not taken action immediately when I returned from an outdoor activity in the woods.  I realized my situation on the second day and the other time it was on the third day after possibly being bitten.  In both cases I managed to remove the tick.  I then went to my doctor’s office where I was prescribed a dose of  Doxycycline.  It appears to have worked since it has been over 6 months since my visit.

I am recommending this site that I discovered as a reference because it provides the best pictures of ticks that I have seen on the internet.  There is also a lot more information on this web site that you may find interesting.  At some level it is important to identify the tick that you have been bitten by.  It is not always possible to keep the tick after it has been removed and being able to name it might be helpful to your doctor.   Tick reference.

Conclusions

To be on the safe side wear a hat and long sleeve shirt.  If wearing shorts, watch your legs occasionally.  Try to be aware of anything crawling on your skin.  Most importantly check yourself over after a hike.  Use a mirror or have a friend check for the places you cannot see.  If you suspect you have been bitten, contact your doctor’s office.

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