The Sportsman’s Corner: Ticks will be bad


Published: 4/1/2022 9:34:19 AM
Modified: 4/1/2022 9:33:50 AM

Ticks and the many diseases they transmit are here and it looks like a banner year for the little pests. This week, my wife had to visit her doctor for treatment of a bite. She blames Laney for being the “vector.” The mild winter seems to have been good for them and thus bad for all of us. Virtually every backyard in the Mount Grace region is home to ticks and the deer tick is a real problem as it carries a number of serious diseases. You need to take immediate steps to protect your pets as they will carry ticks into your home and ultimately put you and your family at risk.

There are topical products like Advantix and Frontline, ingested products like Bravecto, and collars like Soresto. We have used all three successfully. It seems like a matter of personal preference and you should ask your vet for advice as to what might best suit your needs.

Tick-borne diseases are transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. These include Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Powassan (POW), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tularemia. In data I reviewed, Powassan and Tuleremia had not been found in Massachusetts but it was a few years old. Infected ticks can be the vector for these diseases and when an infected tick bites the human host, the human may become infected. Dogs also suffer from Lyme disease and should be protected.

It is best to avoid direct contact with ticks but that is not always possible. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Ticks climb grass and plants and literally jump on you when you brush up against the plant. Walk in the center of trails. You can repel ticks with DEET or Permethrin. You should use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.

You can also use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may provide longer-lasting protection.

You need to check for ticks, regularly! Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair. Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.

Tumble-dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

To remove an attached tick, grasp with tweezers or forceps (they make small tick removers you can purchase that also do an excellent job) as close as possible to the skin, and pull upward and out with a firm and steady pressure. If tweezers are not available, use fingers shielded with a tissue or rubber gloves. Try to avoid handling with bare hands. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. See or call a physician if there is concern about incomplete tick removal. It is important that a tick be removed as soon as it is discovered. Check after every two or three hours of outdoor activity for ticks attached to clothing or skin. If the tick has been on for less than 48 hours, the risk is much less.

Ticks feed on small wild rodents (particularly the white-footed mouse), deer, pets and humans. When a tick becomes infected and continues to feed on various hosts, the bacteria, virus, or parasite can be transmitted. Ticks that are located in the brush and on tall grasses come into contact with humans as we pass through these environments. The ticks can then crawl up sleeves and bite the skin, typically around warm areas under the hair.

Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis are spread by the deer tick. Ehrlichiosis is spread by the Lone Star tick. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is spread by the American Dog Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, Lone Star tick, and Brown Dog tick.

Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis are the most frequently reported tick-borne diseases in New England. The ticks that carry these diseases are common in the northeastern and upper midwestern United States. The greatest risk of being bitten exists in the spring, summer and fall. However, ticks may also be out searching for a host during the winter, any time temperatures are above freezing.

In the event that you get bitten by a tick, there is always the possibility that you could develop one of these aforementioned diseases, but not every tick is a carrier. If you have become infected, symptoms can appear between a few days and a few months later or may not appear at all. The type and severity of symptoms vary with the specific disease, but there are some common symptoms, which include tiredness, body/muscle aches, joint pain, fever, rash, stiff neck and facial paralysis. Early diagnosis is key so get yourself to your doctor if you get bitten. In many cases, as it was with my wife, a small dose of a strong antibiotic (God bless doxyclycline!) will be the treatment.

Turkey hunting is really putting yourself in the “tick zone.” This writer has found that treating my hunting clothes with a Permethrin spray like Sawyers works to repel ticks and also helps keep black flies and mosquitoes away. You can now buy hunting clothing that is treated as well. Protect yourself!

Mike Roche is a retired teacher who has been involved in conservation and wildlife issues his entire life. He has written the Sportsman’s Corner since 1984 and has served as advisor to the Mahar Fish’N Game Club, Counselor and Director of the Mass. Conservation Camp, has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 40 years and is a licensed New York hunting guide. He can be reached at

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