Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tick Facts and Tips


Recently the oldest country kid went to visit his grandparents for a few days..... and guess what he brought home with him? A tick. I know, most of you just got the heebie-jeebies, but breath, be brave, we got through it and so can you!

First, let's learn a little bit about ticks...... Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida, which means they are related to spiders. No wonder they give people the creeps! A tick's life cycle includes eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adult. The larvae, nymphs, and adults all need blood meals to survive. Although ticks will die if they don't feed, many species can live up to a year or more without a meal. Usually the female adult is the one causing the most bites, as males usually die after mating.

Ticks do not jump or fly, they simply reach out with their legs and grab or crawl onto a host (aka you or an animal.) Folks who walk through grassy and wooded areas are at higher risk for tick bites. Guess what? The oldest country kid had been playing in the woods. Ticks are most active from April through September, but I was hoping with the extremely hard winter we had this year their numbers would be down.

So what can you do to avoid getting a tick? Well you could hide in your house for the rest of your life, but you would really be missing out! So, being realistic you can:

  1. Avoid grassy areas or woods (but what fun is that?)
  2. Wear light colored clothing as ticks are easier to spot and brush off before they attach.
  3. If your going to be somewhere where ticks are likely to be (grassy areas, woods) wear long pants and tuck your pant legs into your socks. This way the ticks can't just crawl up your leg for a free meal.
  4. You could use an insect repellent that targets ticks. If you go this route you are going to need DEET which is not recommended for small children.
  5. Do "tick checks" in the evenings before bed. Go over every inch of yourself and children. I once as a child had a tick square in the top of my head! My mom felt it when she ran her fingers through my hair doing a tick check.

Source: ACA
A tick bite is usually painless so you may not know you have been bitten if the tick feeds and falls off. So how will you know if you have been bitten and when to seek medical attention? The bite site may develop itching burning, and redness. If a person is sensitive or allergic to tick bites, they can develop a rash, shortness of breath, swelling, numbness and in rare cases paralysis. Sadly, ticks are not just creepy little buggers, they can also transmit disease. Some of these disease include:

  1. Rocky Mountain spotted fever - Symptoms include headache, fever, and fatigue  about a week after exposure. A few days later, a rash develops. Other possible symptoms include confusion, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Most cases require hospitalization.
  2. Lyme Disease - Symptoms start with a red rash that is call the "bullseye" as it is an expanding red ring, with flue like symptoms. If left untreated, the infection can produce abnormalities in the joints, heart, and nervous system.
So what do you do if you do find a tick who has decided to pull up a chair and have a meal on you? You need to remove it!! The faster you get it off the less time it has to transmit something to you. But how do you get it off? Growing up I was taught to use a match, blown out and touched to the tick to get it to release. Guess what? I have yet to have it actually work. In fact, I have learned that you should NOT do this, or paint the tick with nail polish, gasoline or any other "folk remedy" as it can actually cause the tick to release fluid back into the bite, upping your chance for infection! Here is how you remove a tick:
Source: CDC
  1. Calm the effected person. The oldest country kid was hysterical when he learned he had a tick. Even if you are totally creeped out, breath, and pretend to be calm, because it is much easier to work on someone who isn't wiggling around.
  2. Grab your tweezers and firmly grab the tick as close to the head as possible. Don't twist and turn, just gently pull straight out. Breaking off and leaving the head increases you chance of infection. If you break the head off, see your doctor.
  3. The tick's mouth is barbed so you may have to pull, a lot. I was amazed how much I had to pull to get the oldest country kid's off. But then again, I don't know how long it had been digging in. *yuck*
  4. Don't smash the tick.... place it in some clear tap just in case the person it came off becomes ill, this way you will want to be able to show it to the doctor. Or in our case, the oldest country kid became fascinated with all its parts. Ah the joy of natural science!

  5. Clean the bite area with a mild disinfectant. We apply antibiotic cream to the area as well. The antibiotic cream is to prevent a local infection (It does not affect the chance of developing diseases. I also put an anti-itch cream as the country kid was claiming the bite was bugging him.
  6. Observe the area for several days for development of a reaction to the bite, such as a rash or signs of infection. 
Now that you know more about ticks, probably more then you wanted, get out there this summer and have fun. Don't be afraid, just keep your eyes open. And remember to do your tick checks!

**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**

24 comments:

  1. I hate ticks. They do freak me out. Anything that attaches itself to my body for the purpose of sucking my blood creeps me out. My young daughter came home from camping once with a tick under her arm, it was all I could do to not vomit or pass out. And honestly the thought of running my fingers through hair on mine or their head and finding a tick- I might just die. right there.
    Obviously I'm a city gal. LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL No Angela your not a "city girl" they creep me out too!

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. LOL You guys crack me up.... it's just a wittle buggy

      Delete
  3. Excellent article; I'm going to get the dogs vaccinated for lyme disease; better safe and sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Really good points...I am in South Texas and we battle ticks often. Thanks for sharing on the Thursday Blog Hop!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for this post, found you at Mom's Library link up. I've been looking for a really good post about ticks as I am trying to learn all I can before moving to rural NH next month!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Samantha, they are around and while they look scary, they rarely dig in. Just make sure you check yourself before bed.

      Delete
  6. I just picked my first tick of the year off of my dog. I hoped this harsh winter would have made their numbers decrease. Looks like it didn't matter. Time to get tick repellent out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz I was hoping the same thing but sadly no :(

      Delete
  7. Gross. Our dog had her first tick last summer and I couldn't even handle it. I left my husband to remove it and hid in another room.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL Yes, they tend to creep people out, but if you ever HAVE to do I bet you could :)

      Delete
  8. Creepy!! I'm always picking them off my dog in the Spring - I especially hate when I don't find them in time & they are filled with my fur baby's blood - YUK!! Thanks so much for these tips!
    Angie

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent post, information about ticks is very important especially the ticks that carry Lyme disease. These ticks are now found in all 50 states and you don't always get the traditional ring or rash with a bite. Thanks for sharing your post on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow! - Nancy
    The Home Acre Hop

    ReplyDelete
  10. Really good explanation of how to deal with ticks. I'm pinning this. Thanks for sharing at Happiness is Homemade :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks so much for all the info. Pinned and featured. Linda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope it helps someone... wish no one need to know this stuff. Yucky little bugs LOL

      Delete
  12. Guineas are great to have for tick control, they eat them. One of the few things that will. ����

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Guineas are just too loud for me. But they are great at tick control!

      Delete