Monday, May 20, 2013

Ticks

Today was hot and humid, in the 80s. Wet air, but no moisture for the ground at all, which is back to being dry and dusty after the little bit of rain we got last week.

I went outside just to walk around, and found three ticks when I came in. The point of having a garden is to walk around in it and wander and enjoy. But every single time I come in from outside I have to deal with ticks on me.

It's not just when I have been scrambling around pulling vines out in the meadow, or just when I have been weeding on hands and knees in among the plants. It's any time I walk outdoors. It's any time Jim mows or goes out to take pictures. He can go out for just a minute or two to get a good photo shot and come in and find a tick on his head.

When we come in we inspect, checking everywhere on our bodies and clothes. But then a few hours later I find two in my hair, one crawling on my ear, another on my sock. Jim finds them on his neck. Lunch time is spent scratching my head and finding at least two or three each time.

At night, after I have showered and blow-dried my hair, long after I checked everywhere, I reach up to touch my scalp and there is a tick embedded in the top of my head. Several times now Jim has found them on his pillow in the morning.

I take my clothes off and look into all the seams and sleeves when I come in to shower, then leave them on the side of the tub. An hour later I see a tick crawling on the tub edge. I find ticks in the corners of the bathroom sometimes, even when I have not been outside at all for a day or two.

I constantly feel creepy crawly, especially my hair.

There is an explosion of ticks. Here is a long article in Outside Magazine that talks about what has happened with tick populations over the past years.

I grew up in Connecticut, played outside, climbed trees, built things out in the meadows and wandered in the woods, and I never remember seeing any ticks on me.

I don't remember ever taking a tick off the boys when they came in from a day playing in the woods behind Bugbee School, or even after long games of wiffleball in the yard, running into the tangled plantings all around us to retrieve a ball. Mosquito bites, bee stings, yes. But I never once saw a tick on them.

Now, I bring in three or more on me whenever I so much as walk around the garden to look at the plants. I have to start saturating all my clothes and hats with DEET even to just walk the garden now, but how I hate the smell and feel of it.

I do love the garden, but I increasingly feel so icky going out into it, either from the DEET or from the ticks. And it is not just silly squeamishness -- after my horrific paralysis and fever and joint pain in 2008 from Lyme disease, I want nothing to do with any risk of a tick bite. Jim won't go outside for enjoyment at all -- the only time he will spend any time outdoors is to mow or take a picture for me.

We are starting to view the yard as a place to stay away from. This can't be right.