It may only be mid April on the calendar, but I found my first tick yesterday. I know ticks are part of gardening, but I sure could go a season without getting bit and having to remove those little suckers.
It doesn’t help that I live in New Hampshire where there are no less than 15 different types of ticks being carried around by the most popular host which is a white-footed mouse. Now you have two of my least favorite parts of gardening – ticks and rodents.
There are obvious things I normally do to avoid tick bites including staying out of overgrown brush areas in the summer, wearing light-colored clothing, long sleeves, long pants, and hat, using insect repellent containing Deet, and checking myself.
This week as we continued our spring cleanup, we took down a couple of trees, cut down wild brambles and picked up fallen branches on the edge of the yard where it meets the wetlands. We raked leaves off the beds, and shoveled four yards of wood chips.
I consistently wore long sleeves, long pants, and hat, but it didn’t occur to me to spray because I thought it was too early.
Once bit by this nasty creature, I had to think about the potential of Lyme disease which can have deadly repercussions. I went to our state website and reviewed the fact sheet about Lyme disease. I will continue to monitor the bite site which is thankfully not showing any inflammation.
Usually living near the coast of NH is a benefit, however, when it comes to ticks 85% of them live closer to the coast than inland.
I’ll get the Off! Insect Repellent out this week, keep it handy with my gardening tools, and start spraying regardless of the date on the calendar. The ticks are alive and well and looking for a nice, warm place to hunker down which isn’t going to be me if I can prevent it.
Photo credit: Blacklegged tick, by Alan Eaton, UNH Cooperative Extension