THE MIGHTY TICK MIGRATION (June 25/12)

A while back I devoted a column to what insect experts called a great dog tick migration eastward along the coastline from south-western Nova Scotia. In other words, all those pesky ticks aggravating people in the counties of Queens, Yarmouth and so on were migrating along or near the coast and eventually would establish here in the Annapolis Valley.

Well friends that was decades ago and it’s no news to anyone the migration has been successfully; thanks in part to a moderating climate, say biologists. However they do it, migrate along the coast that is, I suspect ticks had some help from humans and our canine buddies.

At a community supper in Kings County this spring, for example, a friend walked up and showed me a tick he’d just picked off his jacket. “I got several of them on me in Dalhousie this afternoon,” he said. “I’m going outside and get rid of it.”

I complained to the guy that he was helping the spread of ticks but he simply shrugged. “They’re already here,” he said.

He’s right, of course. While not plentiful up and down the entire Valley, they’re now well established and have infesting some areas for decades. Also, I saw a report that wood ticks have been found in Halifax County but that may already be old news.

The Department of Natural Resources say wood or dog ticks are harmless. The Department suggests that to cope with ticks it helps to pull socks up over pant legs and tuck in shirts while in the woods. It also helps to spray clothing and exposed skin with an insect repellent. Outdoor writer Reg Baird of Clementsvale tells me he copes with ticks while fishing by wearing hip boots or chest waders. “This keeps them pretty much in check,” Reg says. He also suggests you examine your clothing and body regularly when fishing in tick country.

Friends who’ve had ticks latch on to various parts of their body tell me they’re the devil to remove. I’ve heard of several weird tick removal methods – dabbing them with kerosene or applying heat, for example – but most sources say it’s best to use tweezers, removing the tick carefully so as not to leave its head embedded in the skin.

I can’t vouch for the following removal method a friend sent me recently, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you have a tick attack. Apply liquid soap to a cotton ball and press it on the embedded tick for 15 to 20 seconds. The tick is supposed to come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball.

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