How to Avoid Ticks: More Lyme Cases Expected This Year

Remember the bumper crop of acorns back in 2010? In many places, you couldn’t walk outside without crunching them under … Continued

Remember the bumper crop of acorns back in 2010? In many places, you couldn’t walk outside without crunching them under foot. And as disjointed as it may seem, some experts are blaming the mast crop for the big rise in tick population (and Lyme disease) that are expected this year, reports

How can the acorns govern the tick population? Apparently, the mouse population is the real culprit. White footed mice and deer mice populations exploded with so much food on the ground over the winter of 2010, providing a lot of furry, warm real estate for the tick numbers to bloom.

But this past winter was not so generous on the acorns and other tree nuts, creating a sharp decline in the number of mice, which has left a lot of hungry ticks looking for their next meal (i.e. you and me). This cycle has been seen before. In 2006, there was a large acorn crop, followed by a poor acorn crop in 2007. Black-legged ticks reached a 20-year high after that “boom and bust” cycle.

Take The Right Precautions

To avoid the ticks and the diseases they carry (more than just Lyme’s), follow this advice:

* Dope up your clothes heavily with bug repellent. Use the strongest stuff you can buy and feel good about using, conventional or all natural. Use DEET on your skin (yes, it’s poisonous), or use permethrin on your clothing (yes, it’s more poisonous), or use the finest essential oil bug repellent available (which is probably less poisonous than the previously mentioned products, but also less effective).

* Finally, check yourself often for ticks–at least once a day. Especially check in your crevices, nether regions, belly buttons, underarms, the back of your knees, and areas where your clothing is tight against your skin, like your waistband and the top of your socks. Use a mirror or have someone special check for ticks in all the places you cannot directly view.

* Avoid areas where ticks are most common, like tall grass and thick leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails whenever possible, to minimize your contact with the vegetation.

* To avoid bringing ticks into your home, toss your dirty outdoor clothing in the dryer on high heat to kill the ticks and prevent them from escaping your unattended laundry hamper.

If you do find a tick biting you, carefully pull it straight out using tweezers to grasp the tick’s head. Or, better yet, use a specialized tick removing tool, available at your local camping store.