Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Those things in the woods . . .

by Linda Benson

We recently moved from southern Washington back to southern Oregon, where the weather is milder and more conducive to riding, hiking, gardening, and being outside in general. I am LOVING it. But I'd forgotten that there are two things that also like this more agreeable weather: poison oak and ticks. And if you are in the woods at all, you're likely to run into one or both of these.

Poison Oak doesn't bother me too much. If I just brush against it casually I'm probably okay, but I wouldn't make a point of rolling in it!


Ticks, however, are another thing. *shudders* How I hate the little critters!

In Washington, I rode and hiked in the woods a lot, and can only remember once finding a tick on my dog. And never on me or any of my horses. Here in Oregon though - different story. Ticks seem to be everywhere!

I found one embedded in the back of my head last week. *cue major freak-out music* A couple of days later, out to dinner with my husband at a restaurant, I felt something crawling on my neck, slid into the booth next to him and said "OMG, is this a tick???"

Yes, it was. *shudders even more* At least I got it before it decided to have ME for dinner.


Last night, sitting with our old cat on my lap, I found two of the disgusting little things attached to her neck and ran for the tweezers.

Now I am squirming under my clothes, running my fingers through my hair constantly, and humming Brad Paisley's catchy tune "Ticks." But I did learn one new thing recently (in my mad google search to identify ticks in Oregon, chances of getting Lyme Disease, etc. etc.) I discovered that I have been using the wrong method to remove ticks all these years.

My mother taught me, many years ago, to twist them out, slowly and counter-clockwise, making sure to get the head out. While this advice is mostly right, after researching many articles online, they all agree that while you should pull out slowly, with tweezers, you don't twist! (Sorry, Mom.) Just get a firm grip on the disgusting little things with your tweezers and pull slowly and surely, straight out, until they let go with their mouthpieces. This is the method I tried last night on our old cat, and sure enough, the nasty tick let go and came out, where I quickly killed it, and put alcohol on the spot where it was embedded in old Lucy's neck. (Of course, training  your cat/dog/horse/child to hold STILL for this entire procedure would take another blog post entirely. Let's just say I was glad to have help.)

Do you have poison oak and/or ticks where you live?
Are they a problem while riding/hiking in the woods?
Have you had experience removing ticks from your horses (or other animals)?
Let us know . . .


14 comments:

Cindy D. said...

I tend to be a desert dweller, both high desert and low. We just don't get many ticks. Sand fleas and blood sucking Gnats are what we get in WY.

Linda Benson said...

Ha! Well, every place must have its own set of problems, Cindy. Blood-sucking gnats sound pretty icky, though, if you ask me. I do remember in WA we used to have "no-see-'ems", which I believe were tiny little gnats that bothered the horses on their tails or under their bellies.

Anonymous said...

Yes - ticks,poison oak and nettles . The key is really lightweight ( and light colored) long sleeve shirts- like the sun shirts REI sells. Really helps to prevent ticks and poison oak. Also, half chaps if I'm trail riding help to keep ticks from crawling in your shoes if you get off the horse. I also use a tick repellent on my horses legs, belly, face and neck .

Linda Benson said...

Good ideas, Anonymous! Long-sleeved shirts work well for everything from mosquitoes to blackberries, too. And I'm ready to slather the OFF on me before I go outside. I'm planning to get some tick repellent for the animals, too. Hopefully tick season only lasts for a few months!

Allenspark Lodge said...

We do have a few ticks here in Colorado in the spring. And after reading your post, I can feel EVERY ONE OF THEM crawling in my hair, under my shirt, up my pant legs...

Bill

Linda Benson said...

Heh, heh. Sorry about that, Bill . . .

Marissa Rose said...

Here in central california we have SOOO many ticks. Every year, we seem to have a weird rainy few weeks in the end summer, which turns everything green and the ticks come out because its still summer and warm. The really fun season is the spring! It just sucks to have two different tick seasons!

I don't mind picking them off of the horses at all, I'll pick them off when other people don't want to touch them. However, I HATE it when one is on me. Totally grosses me out and gives me creepy crawleys for days!

Linda Benson said...

I totally agree, Marissa. I am very stoic and ultra-cool about removing ticks from animals. But when they get on me, I turn into the biggest baby in the world. Waah!

RiderWriter said...

Oh, lord, you've touched on (hah) two of my LEAST FAVORITE things in the world... I am horribly, horribly allergic to poison oak and poison ivy. No, I could not just brush up against it and not get it. I swear I get it just from LOOKING at it. And ticks - argh! I still remember when I had on on my ear in French class in 7th grade. Yep, yank 'em off an animal, no problem but ME? Yikes!

I just read that a good way to make them let go is put a dab of liquid soap on them. I'm planning to try that if the need arises. As you can imagine, I just normally stay far away from the woods in the summer.

Linda Benson said...

Rider Writer - sorry about your reaction to poison oak. I know some people who do get it really bad. Ha! French class in the 7th grade? That moment has stayed in your memory, huh? *shudders* Let's hope that tick and poison oak season is over soon!

Alison said...

I've had several on me and freak out because Lyme disease is a big problem on the East Coast. Fortunately you can vaccinate dogs for Lyme (cats don't get Lyme) but not people. Go figure!

Maureen Webb said...

Hio, An old man once gave me a great trick for removing ticks. Rub them gently, but fast with your finger anti-clockwise for a minute. they let go and fall off, still alive and it works EVERY time, usually within about 20 seconds. NO chance of leaving any part of them stll inside!!

lytha said...

I moved from Seattle (tickfree) to TICK HELL GERMANY and I cannot get over how awful they are here. I went to the doctor last week with an infected tick bite and I feel it's only a matter of time before I get Lyme disease.

The poor cat has ticks on her face weekly, and since we never find them anywhere else on her, it must be that she knows how to remove them (?). The poor horse also, nasty!

Have you ever seen one the size of a grape? I found it on my kitchen floor.

I cannot avoid ticks by staying out of the woods - they live in my yard and pasture too. And there isn't any insecticide that I've found in this country that helps.

Missing Seattle for so many reasons!

Linda Benson said...

Alison - yes, the thought of getting Lyme disease is scary stuff. I'm told if you find a tick attached to you, that you can keep it in alcohol (dead, of course)and wait to see if you get any kind of rash or other symptoms, and then send it to a lab to see if the tick was a carrier.

Maureen, I had not heard that exact method, but if it works, awesome! (I hate touching the darn things, though.) *shudder*

Lytha - how awful. I had no idea ticks were so prevalent in Germany. I saw an all-natural tick repellant on facebook today. I bet if you Google it you can find it, too, and it might be safer to use all the time on yourself than a chemical one (and it might help a little bit, anyway.) Good luck!