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Growing Wisdom

Tick prevention, identification and control

Spring brings a flood of activity in the garden. The plants are busting out and itís time to clean-up from any winter damage. As the weather warms many critters will be out in the garden from slugs to chipmunks some of these can do damage to your plants.

While those critters are certainly a nuisance, they pale in comparison to ticks. Iíll get to the weather in a bit, but hereís a quick story about those nasty creatures that happened last night. Being a gardener, living next to woods and a field and having two dogs means I am going to find ticks on me. Itís also inevitable I will get bitten. So around 2:30 this morning I found myself awakened by something. Promptly running to the mirror I found I had indeed been bitten by a tick. When ticks bite me I immediately react. I must have pulled the arachnid off my leg while sleeping.The problem, it was still likely crawling around.

There I am in the predawn hours tearing the bedding apart looking for the tick. My other half was sleeping through the entire thing or at least pretending to. I then ran to the mirror and finally discovered the tick trying to embed itself into my face. Removal was swift and the tick met an untimely death followed by a swift trip down the sink.

tick identification.png

The tick likely hitched a ride last night when I went out to the compost pile. I was wearing shorts and flip flops and the composter is in an area with some taller grasses and weeds. I remember thinking how stupid it was to be out there without long pants and socks and to at least check myself when I got inside.

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There are ways to prevent ticks. First, clear the perimeter of your yard from tall grasses, leaves and other hiding places where the ticks like to live. Ticks often jump on the dogs and then come inside on them. Even if you use products to prevent ticks on your dogs, the ticks can still come into the house and get on you before dying.

There are many products available as tick preventatives for dogs. I really donít like using those chemicals on my pets, but they do work pretty well. This year I have been using an organic spray that is mostly cedar and peppermint and also feeding the dogs brewerís yeast and garlic. This method seems to be working quite well.

There are products you can spray on your clothes in that contain permethrin this is a synthetic product that kills the ticks as they walk across the fabric. Products with DEET repel ticks. If I use DEET I put it on my clothing not on my skin.

There are several species of ticks in the landscape, but the deer tick, the primary conduit for Lyme disease is the one of the more problematic ones for humans. There are also several other diseases spread by ticks. Since I am not a doctor, Iím not going to tell you how to diagnose these diseases, but you can readily find information on various websites including the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The image below shows the most common types of ticks you can find in the garden. Different areas of the country and the world have very different ticks. All ticks are unfortunately a potential disease spreader to you or your pets.

tick identification chart.jpg


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