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Ticks in the sticks … (2014)


… and in the grasses, bushes and sage brush

The ticks are out. Do I have proof? Yes. About three weeks ago a tick latched on to my husband’s inner elbow.

A western black-legged tick, one of several tick species in Oregon. Via Wikimedia Commons

A western black-legged tick, one of several tick species in Oregon. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Now through late summer is prime tick season in Oregon. Adult ticks are active and looking for a host, also called questing. They hold on to leaves and grass waiting for an unsuspecting animal or human to brush past. That’s how it happened to my husband. He spent not more than five minutes looking at trail conditions in a brushy area. About an hour later, the “ick” factor took hold when he discovered one burrowing into his skin.

What should we have done versus how we actually handled the situation? We made mistakes. He removed the tick with his fingers and tossed it on the ground. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using tweezers, but we didn’t have a set with us and decided it was better to remove it then and not to wait. We also didn’t keep the tick for identification – a misstep should my husband develop disease symptoms later. Many tick-borne diseases are transmitted by specific species so it’s important to identify the tick.

You don’t want a tick in the first place, and there are steps you can take to prevent them from selecting you. The National Pesticide Information Center has a resource page on managing ticks and preventing tick bites. The site recommends that you and your family:

  • Wear light colors so you can see ticks on your clothes.
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks so ticks can’t find your ankles and crawl on your legs.
  • Consider using tick repellent.
  • Don’t forget to check your pets.

Will this stop us from going outdoors? No, but I will tuck my socks in my pants no matter how goofy it looks.