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The Black-legged Tick-9/29/16

th ixodes-distribution-2 ixodes_scapularis

Summer is finally over which means hopefully the mosquitos and “no see ems” will soon disappear which makes me want to jump for joy personally. But we are not completely free of bugs as the seasons change…ticks are now upon us. Unfortunately, the beginning of deer season means the beginning of tick infestations. There is not one person in the world that has shot a deer that was free of ticks, I guarantee it. Usually they are all clustered around the genital region and scurry about as soon as you begin to remove the hide to harvest the meat. Ticks, especially black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) pose a huge threat to humans but especially during deer season. This specific species of tick carries the infamous Lyme disease. I will further explain the history of the disease, as well as side effects and preventative techniques.

History

Ticks are nasty, pesky little insects that burrow into skin/fur of their hosts and feed on their blood. Of the numerous species of ticks, the most important is the black-legged tick or deer tick. This tick can cause great ailments for humans, if not treated correctly or immediately. But how did this disease come about? It was believed that Lyme disease was a fairly new epidemic that started around the 70s with the hippies and the disco music. However, after multiple cases began to pop up in Connecticut, scientists and doctors realized that this disease had been documented in Europe almost 100 years ago and it was not a new disease after all. They then began to suspect that the disease was around as far back as the Lewis and Clark era, but was overshadowed by more debilitating diseases that were present then. As more and more cases popped up, physicians and the public began to notice the warning signs and treat right away.

Side Effects

People who believed they were infected by the tick all shared a common rash that looked very similar to a “bullseye”. Along with the rash, people would experience some sort of flu-like symptom such as fever, aches, chills (the same side effects for nearly EVERYTHING) so the rash was really the telling symptom. Doctors would prescribe the infected persons a strong antibiotic and that would be that. However, the ones that did not suspect the disease or were unaware of Lyme disease faced long-term damage such as severe arthritis or central nervous issues such as dizziness and memory loss. The surge in Lyme disease cases caused many ecologists and scientists to get together and determine how to keep humans out of the way of this horrible tick. They took a look at the tick’s ecology and biology and mapped out where and when the ticks were most prominent. They linked the ticks’ location to wherever the deer population was the densest. For instance, in the fall when acorns begin to drop, deer focus heavily on forests filled with hardwoods, especially oak trees.

Preventative Techniques

It is always important to wear tick repellent. OFF makes a bug spray that repels ticks but also the soap Irish Spring repels ticks (and I think chiggers but do not quote me on that!). Another step towards prevention is to conduct tick searches after leaving the woods. It is important to search every inch of your body for ticks. If in fact you come into contact with a black-legged tick, there is a window of opportunity; you could remove it before it infects you with the Lyme carrying bacteria! The last step is much harder to accomplish.  Some people would suggest avoiding areas that are heavily populated with host species (such as deer and mice) but that is hard to do when it is hunting season! I suggest using bug sprays and checking yourself very often!

The outdoors is a very exciting place to be, but some of its tenants are not so pleasurable. As hunting season quickly approaches, think of the habitats you will be frequenting and how dense the deer population is at that particular site. The heavier the deer population, the heavier the tick population!! By all means, do not avoid the woods because you are avoiding ticks, just take necessary precautions and you will be good to go! Please read the entire article I have attached! It is very informative.

http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/issue.aspx?id=923&y=0&no=&content=tne&page=6&css=print

 

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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