Spring has sprung, yahoo! However with Spring also comes the ticks. You gotta love the change of the seasons on the island, so distinct, so fresh, but Spring is my favourite with as it is all about new growth and renewal, but those nasty ticks!!! . Every year I look forward to the first signs of spring when the heather in my neighbours yard blooms and my magnolia tree sprouts its little furry buds, a clear indication that the weather is warming, not that we can’t feel that, it’s all around us. We are so lucky to live here. People walking down the streets in tee shirts, or should I say kids walking down the street in tee shirts, most adults aren’t quite that brave yet.
Spring is also a time you need to exercise cautioned when it comes to walking trails that are known to have ticks, those little scary and very ugly insects that suck the blood of their victims, that is so grouse. As soon as the warmer weather starts the ticks come out searching for hosts to suck blood so that they may propagate.
The difference between adult ticks and other insects is that they have eight legs rather than six. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot jump or fly and do not drop from trees. The reason they bite is to store blood protein for egg development. The ticks we encounter on the island are primarily the Western Black legged tick, they appear on low lying vegetation in typically warm, moist areas (like pretty much everywhere) but do not habitat in well forested areas with a full canopy. These red and black females and smaller black males attach to humans, deer, cats and dogs, becoming grey and bean-like in size as they feed. The bite can be quite painful and may result in a slow healing ulcer, these are the ticks that are responsible for carrying the microorganism responsible for Lyme Disease in North America. Centre for Disease Control of BC.
The Season of the Tick
On the Island we generally only see ticks from late March until early
June, however the weather is the dictating factor and this year it has been a very mild March so they are out early this year.
For humans, there is no need to avoid areas where ticks are known to exist, all you have to do to guard against them is to wear long sleeves and a hat and make sure your neck is covered, but I have a dog, who likes to run through the bush, so I avoid areas that have been known to harvest ticks during this season.
A few of the trails around town that I know have tick nests are: The Ripple Rock Trail, the Myrt Thompson Trail and the Pumphouse trail, although I do think the Pumphouse trail only has them in the area of the Hydro lines where there are low lying shrubberies. The shrubberies are the key, if you are in any area that is primarily near water and there are low lying shrubberies this is where you are most likely to see them or in most cases not see them until they are attached to something because they are very small at that stage.
There are more than 20 species of ticks in British Columbia but only three of them will bite humans. The bites may sometimes be painful and slow in healing but the danger is the possibility of disease if they are not removed promptly, but remember not to panic, removal of ticks can be a bit tricky and just yanking them out can actually cause more harm than good.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
If you have any of the following symptoms within days or weeks after being bitten by a tick, report them immediately to your family doctor. Ensure that you tell them when and where you were bitten. And if you can keep the removed ticks and take them to your doctor, all you have to do is put them in a Ziploc bag and keep them in your freezer for a short time, this way if you do show symptoms the tick can be analysed. After a few weeks if you do not have any symptoms feel free to flush the offending insect down the toilet.
1. General symptoms of fever headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue or weakness of the muscles of the face.
2. Skin rash, especially one that looks like a “Bulls Eye”. It may or may not be where the bite was.
3. The onset of paralysis. This usually starts in the feet and legs and gradually works its way up to the upper body, arms and head. This paralysis can develop from within a few hours to several days.
To Remove Ticks
For more on ticks and tick removal click onto our Hiking and Animal Awareness pages on GoCampbellRiver.com
It makes me feel like I need a shower just writing this post.