The Tick Problem   5 comments

TickI hate parasites. Blood sucking parasites. Hate’em.

If you’re tromping through the outback enough, you’ll eventually get bitten by a tick.

They are a blood sucking parasite.

Growing up on a farm, I was bitten. Our dogs were bitten. It wasn’t a common thing, but it happened. If you had blood … they were looking for you. And ticks were ugly, ugly, ugly things after they’d been sucking your blood for a while. And come to find out, I had no idea what to do.

The first thing to do, is to avoid getting bitten. Here’s how you do that:

  • Apply insect repellant with DEET to your clothing, shoes, socks and skin.
  • Walk in the center of trails. Avoid overhanging brush and long grasses as much as possible.
  • Wear tightly woven clothing, long sleeves, and light colors when walking through woods and overgrowth. They will make the ticks easier to spot, and expose less of your skin.
  • Keep your shirt tucked in.
  • Check your clothes and skin after you’ve been in an area that might be tick-infested. Wash everything as quickly as possible to make sure ticks are gone.
  • Ticks like folds in the skin (like behind your ears) or under your waistband.
  • Check your kids!  Check your pets!

If you are bitten, you’ll need to remove them. Once they’re hooked into your skin, they are an extremely difficult thing to remove.

An engorged tick

Luckily, there was no Lyme disease when I was a kid. That particular malady wasn’t discovered until 1975, when an outbreak in Lyme, CT was found to be infecting kids that lived near tick-infested woods. When I was a kid, though, ticks were just bad. They were annoying. But they were nothing more than a temporary problem. Now, if you are bitten by a disease-carrying Deer Tick, you might catch life-long health problems. And a Deer Tick Nymph is only the size of a “.” Even fully engorged, it’s only the size of a “o”. Good news: most ticks do not carry Lyme disease. In every case, though, you want to get the tick out of your skin as soon as possible.


One theory you may have heard is that you coat a tick that’s bitten you with Vaseline – totally cover them in petroleum jelly. Eventually, they’ll unhook from your skin rather than suffocate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

Burnt Matches

Another old theory was that you light a match, blow it out, and then touch the tick with the hot match head to convince it to leave for a cooler place.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

The Tick Key

What does work is removing the tick with tick removal tweezers, or a tick key. If you’re going on hikes, you need one of those in your first aid kit. Tick Keys are on sale at the Placerita Nature Center here in Santa Clarita. See how they work in the video on their website; the link is below.

Tick Key


The TickKey

Burnt Matches?

Yahoo on Tick Removal

Ten Essentials For Your Hike

5 responses to “The Tick Problem

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  1. Danged good post, Henry. Never heard of the ‘tick key’… So I’ll be using the spiffy little tab over here on the right and *sharing*, hon.
    Thanks, Tanya / Ti Raven

  2. YUCK!

    • Exactly right … but luckily this is not a huge problem for us in SoCal. On the East coast and in New England is where Lyme disease is an issue, and that’s when a disgusting blood sucking parasite becomes a full-on crisis.

  3. Pingback: The Best of MowryJournal: 2013 |

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