Ixodes scapularis… a nefarious beast and the only bug I classify under the “Kill-it-kill-it-kill-it” category.

Ishpeming, Michigan  –  May 13, 2014  –  April showers bring May flowers… well, not here in Marquette County! April snow showers bring May floods, potholes and now ticks! YUCK!

The weekend weather was amazing. It was finally warm enough to comfortably wear shorts outside and my family and I took advantage of the weather by grilling steaks, eating dinner on the deck and going for a walk on our wooded property.

Unfortunately for our dog, she picked up a little hitchhiker at some point this weekend. She had a nasty little tick embedded behind her ear. Ever the good girl, she sat and let me yank that tick out of her skin without batting an eyelash. Have I mentioned how wonderful my German Shepherd is?

Given that we live in the middle of the woods, we’ve learned to deal with ticks – they are pretty much a part of everyday life in the U.P. Even though I’m used to removing them from my kids and my dog, I can’t bring myself to pull them off of myself.

Luckily for me, it’s rare that those little bloodsuckers latch onto me because I take steps to avoid them:

  1. I try to wear long pants tucked into my socks and long-sleeved shirts if I’m going to be in an area heavily populated with ticks. If it’s too hot for all that, I wear shorts and tank tops so my arms and legs are bare and I can feel the tick on my skin and kill it (or look around for it if I’ve instinctively flailed about and flung it off my body).
  2. I use bug repellant (usually DEET) on my shoes, socks, and clothing. I try not to spray bug dope directly on my skin since it tends to make me feel woozy. I’ve used organic, all-natural sprays, and they work great for mosquitoes, but I’m not taking chances with arachnids (I don’t trust any living creature that moves by hydraulics).
  3. I try to stay away from areas where long grass and bushes will be brushing against me since this is where ticks LOVE to hang out, waving their creepy little legs about just waiting for someone to pass by that they can grab onto. If I’m walking on a trail, I stick to the center of the trail.
  4. I do a tick check every time I come in the house. If you’ve lived in the U.P. any length of time, you know how it’s done… you stand in front of a full length mirror with a hand mirror and you look EVERYWHERE.
  5. Lastly, I throw my clothes in the washer and take a shower – not only to get any errant DEET off of my skin, but just in case I missed something during the mandatory tick check.

Those are my tips for staying tick-free in the U.P., and now I’m itchy just thinking about ticks. Blech!

Feel free to comment below and share any tips, tricks and rituals you go through to keep these repugnant little arachnids off of you.

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