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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Beware the little kings of the jungle

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Beware the little kings of the jungle


There is really nothing in our great outdoors that bothers me too much.

Oh, except ticks and mosquitoes.

First, it was the ticks with the dreaded Lyme disease. Now it’s mosquitoes with the Eastern equine encephalitis virus.

It looks like insects will be taking over our outdoor world if we are not careful.

Having spent a good part of my life in the outdoors, I have become very familiar with ticks. I have been bitten more times than I can count, and while I seem to harbor many symptoms of Lyme disease, all of my tests come back negative.

I even had inoculations that were advertised as a Lyme disease preventive (three of them) only to be told later that they were not an effective preventive measure. Oh, well. 

Now the big worry, and rightfully so, is the EEE virus caused by mosquito bites, and sorry to say I do not have any information on this. However, I do see that many evening outdoor activities have been moved to daytime hours as a protective measure against kids involved in sport getting bit by an EEE-carrying mosquito.

Regarding the Lyme-carrying ticks, I have become VERY familiar with them and ways to prevent them, although even then quite a number of them got through my protective efforts.

This year, deer hunters will be a prime target for ticks. But it is not only deer hunters who need to be wary of these blood-sucking insects. Golfers and homeowners should be, as well. Many of our yards play host to ticks that lie in wait for a warm body to come close enough to attach themselves to.

In my personal experience with ticks, I have found that I never noticed them when they attached themselves to my body. I usually found them by visible means. One practice I have used to try and protect my Darlin’ Edna and our dog Charlie is to shed any clothes that I have worn out in the woods in the garage before I go into the house. This has seemed to work pretty well, so far.

I do have to tell you that finding a tick stuck to your torso does come as a shock, and many times removing it is no easy feat.

My very first encounter of the Lyme tick kind came many years ago, when I first started to pen this column.

Back then I was using a typewriter and was sitting at my desk, pondering my next sentence. I had my arms crossed and felt a small bump under my arm above the elbow. Try as I might, I could not get a look at it. So I went to the bathroom mirror and put my arm up to it and still had a hard time seeing what it was.

Then I found it.

It was a TICK! Ugly and back and stuck into my skin.

I called Edna for some help in removing it. She tried Vaseline and that did not work. Tweezers would not remove it.

So the next move was a visit to the Emergency Room at the former Veteran’s Memorial Hospital on Paddock Avenue. 

Fortunately for me, the doctor in charge that day was an authority on ticks — I believe his name was Dr. Kenyon. He assured me that it was indeed a Lyme tick and proceeded to use a scalpel to remove the critter. Then it was a 10-day regime of huge pills to fight the Lyme disease and, at that time, it seemed to work.

The thing about a tick bite — and I say this from experience — is I have never felt them when they bit me. I only found them by seeing them on my body (or having someone else see them).

Glenn Agnew, the well-liked village barber in South Meriden who passed away recently, once found a tick imbedded in the back of my neck while giving me a haircut. Glenn skillfully removed it. I never knew it was there.

They tell you to keep your shirt tucked inside your trousers and to tuck your pant legs inside your socks, and many times this does work, And sometimes it does not. As long as the weather allows, I tuck my trouser legs into knee-high rubber boots and spray them copiously with a tick spray.

But even then, I have found them crawling around my wrists looking for a spot to grab onto my skin. And that in itself is odd, because while I could not feel them biting me — most of the time around my belly on the belt line — I could feel them as they crawled on my wrists and face. Just about all of the times I noticed them was when I was sitting in my treestand hunting deer.

If you are a deer hunter or follow any outdoor pursuit, for that matter, just come home with some ticks and let them drop off in your home to really impress your better half. Even as I write this column. I have a tendency to glance down at my arms just to make sure that there are none of those nasty critters looking for a place to put the bite on this old writer.

The deer tick, the primary transmitter of Lyme disease, is a very small tick. Larva are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed and adults are about of an inch long.

Adults may feed in the fall or in warm weather in winter and early spring. Nymphs are active all summer and feed on many animals, while larva like to feed on mice. Adults feed on deer and other large animals, but the bad part about the whole Lyme scenario is that ALL stages of this dangerous pest, especially nymphs and adults, have been found feeding on humans.

Removing a tick that has been found attached to your body can be a tedious task, but I have found one solution that seems to work quite well. It is called RID-A-TICK. It is a small patch that you place over the whole tick for about 30 minutes. When you take the patch off, the dead tick comes with it without leaving any contaminating tick parts in your skin.

It has worked well for me.

The only place in our area that sells RID-A-TICK that I know of is the Fishin’ Factory in Southington (860-621-8145).

That’s it gang, gotta run. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving this great country of ours. Freedom is not free!