Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2003

Proper clothing helps defend attack of ticks

May 4, 2003


Mushroom hunting season has come and gone. But mushrooms were not all "shroom" hunters found in the woods. Ticks are back and it seemed that they were abundant this year.

There are a lot of myths and a lot of misplaced fear about ticks. Ticks are not to be taken lightly, but panic is not necessary. In Douglas County, we mainly deal with two species of ticks this time of year: the American Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick. Both feed on humans as well as almost any warm-blooded host. The adult Lone Star Tick is characterized by a bright white dot on its back. The nymph and juvenile forms of this tick are often the seed ticks people may encounter by the hundreds.

So, if you find yourself covered with these blood-sucking pests, here are some tips to help control them:

l The best way to deal with ticks is to avoid being bitten. Ticks rest on vegetation, usually grass and low shrubs, and wait for a potential host to walk by. They grab on to whatever walks by and immediately start climbing up to find a place where they can attach and feed. It takes a few hours before a tick usually settles in and starts feeding. The sooner a tick can be found, the easier it is to remove.

l The first line of defense is to use clothing as a barrier. Long-sleeved shirts, close fitting cuffs, high necklines and long trousers make it more difficult for the tick to get to your skin. Tucking pant legs inside of socks may make you look like a geek, but it will also keep the ticks from getting inside your clothing.

l There are several excellent tick repellents made for clothing treatment. These contain a 0.5 percent permethrin solution and are often sold as tick repellent. While excellent on clothing, skin oils will deactivate these products if applied to skin. For skin, use one of the DEET based products applied as directed. Many people also report good success applying dusting sulfur to shoes, socks and trouser cuffs.

-- Bruce Chladny is horticulture agent at K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County. For more information, call him at 843-7058 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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