Little Blood Monsters


Image used under Creative Commons from fairfaxcounty on Flickr

Ticks are tiny blood monsters that can really spoil a good day in the forest. Having said that, it’s important to keep in mind that they are also a vital food source for a multitude of reptiles, birds, and amphibians. Like mosquitoes they serve a purpose in our ecosystem (however annoying/harmful they are to us bipeds). And I’m sure they serve a greater purpose beyond being food, though I’m not privy to that information. Armed with that dose of compassion, let’s look at some measures we can take to stay away from them….

After playing in the woods, you should always check yourself and your child for ticks. Ticks don’t fall from trees, if you found one in your head it crawled up there. Ticks live in shrubs and tall grasses (hence why they like hair). They prefer to feel secure, so after hitching a ride on you they will seek out a tight spot to attach and feed. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers — squeeze the head close to your skin, not the body (which will push germs into you). If one’s been feeding on you, it’s good to sandwich the tick up in tape and bring it to the doctor for testing. Most sources say that a tick needs to be feeding on its host for 24 hours to transmit any diseases (but don’t quote me on that). Checking yourself or your child within 2 hours of being in the forest is recommend. Permethrin-based repellents are good to use on clothing, but not on skin — DEET (though gross) works on both. Tossing cloths in the dryer for 10 minutes will kill any ticks hanging around for a later meal. Light colored clothing is helpful for spotting them. If you find a loose tick the best way to dispose of it is via fire or a hasty burial.

Ok, with that knowledge, go out into the woods and have a good time. Remember…it’s your home too!

Oh…and here’s a cute picture to counterbalance that other one:
The woods are worth it.

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