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Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Ticks on 04/27/2006 22:40:43 MDT Print View

I very rarely hike in tick infested areas, but noticed several on my pant leg on a recent trip. Does anyone know if these creatures stay active at night when you make camp? My first night using a bivy would have been a lot better if I did not feel the need to zip up and suffer the condensation in an attempt to avoid Lyme D. exposure.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
ticks - this seems to say on 04/27/2006 23:01:30 MDT Print View

you did not sweat needlessly

Alex Lee
Re: Ticks on 04/28/2006 00:43:11 MDT Print View

Are you in a Lyme disease prone part of the United States?

What did the ticks look like? Lyme disease is rare in California where I live, so much so that I've never seen the tiny black tick that's the only carrier for it here. I mainly see the larger, brownish-red ones.

Ticks stay on their host for several days to feed off of enough fluids. If you happen to have the right species of tick on you, it happens to be a tick that is carrying the disease (not all ticks that can carry the disease actually do), you still have about 48-72 hours where the risk of disease transmission is very low. That's two days to check yourself to make sure that you don't have a tick on you.

Contrary to popular belief, removing a tick is rather trivia. Using your fingernail to dig it out is pretty effective. Better to remove it early than to wait to see a doctor.

I think it's more important to find out if the places you hike in are more prone to have the disease, and take precautions form there (pulling your socks over your pant lets, checking yourself regularly, etc.)

Go give some background, I took a parasitology class not too long ago, and one of the professors used to do a lot of tick research. I don't claim to an expert in this area, but I did think my class put a lot of stuff about ticks and Lyme disease into some proper context.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Ticks on 04/28/2006 01:16:44 MDT Print View

On the flipside, if you live in the NE, L.D. is somewhat common. Easily 25% of my friends have had L.D. and two are severely incapacitated to this day, one with very advanced neurological problems, the other only partially crippled.

To this day, i'm a bit surprised when a friend tells me that his/her doctor has only placed them on a 2week course of antibiotic therapy for a positive Lyme's test. Invariably, they ALL have relapsed - without exception. Antibiotic overuse MUST be avoided, but in this case, considering the potential consequences of LD. Hope 2wks course of antibiotic therapy works for others.

Nymphal Deer Ticks are about the size of a tiny black poppy seed and usually go unnoticed. They are the prime infectors in spring and summer.

In the fall, adults Deer ticks take over that role. They are larger - still smaller than the head of a pin, but might be noticed.

It takes ~15hrs for the etiological agent of L.D. to travel from the lumen of the gut of the deer tick to the salivary glands. Typically twice that time for infection to occur. By this time the tick is engorged with blood and is more easily noticed. Unfortunately, best chance to avoid infection is removal before engorgement.

Besides LD, there are a number of other tick zoonoses. One is named for the neck of the woods that many BPL Forum participants live in, viz. Rocky Mtn. Spotted Fever.

Best to keep all ticks off. Some people, like my son, are quite "magnetick" and readily "attract" ticks. He woudl typically have more on him than we could find on our dogs after a hike. Fortunately, he had whitish-blond hair which made finding them on his scalp rather easy.

BTW, LD is named after a town in my home state. One of my wife's friend's daughter (long since an adult) was actually one of the first individuals closely examined by specialists in an attempt to determine the cause of her problems. She was much too young to have contracted syphillis and had shown no signs of abuse. "Syph" is a somewhat related "bug" producing somewhat similar symptoms and "phases" of infection to LD. In fact, decades ago when they told me about her symptoms and the disease progression my first thoughts were a spirochete, perhaps related to syphillis. Several years later, the spirochete was finally identified. Wished I had been still working in clinical microbiology at the time they told me about their daughter - maybe the causative organsim would have a different name today.

Edited by pj on 04/28/2006 01:21:17 MDT.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Ticks on 04/28/2006 08:13:52 MDT Print View

I suppose in my case I was not at very high risk of the disease based on the fact that both sightings of ticks were the large brown variety. I have to admit though, I still probably would have zipped up. I just don't like the thought of parasites crawling on me while I sleep. This particular evening it did not help that I also saw a large, rather wicked looking spider next to my bag as I got into bed. I think, even though I mostly camp higher than the 3200 feet I was at, that sewing a bug net into the opening of my bivy will allow for a lot more flexibility.

Alex Lee
Re: Ticks on 04/28/2006 09:12:01 MDT Print View

Were you talking about ticks crawling onto you (and not already on you) while you sleep at night?

I believe that hard ticks use the "sit and wait" approach: they rest on vegetation and wait for a host to come by, then try to latch onto it. There could be some exception to this, maybe paul johnson can chime in on this?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Ticks on 04/28/2006 12:07:09 MDT Print View

Primarily correct on the "sit and wait". They also drop onto potential hosts, but I've seen, with my own eyes on a small number of occasions, ticks actually crawling towards me. This was most easily seen, more than once, on a light colored sofa after hiking - probably fell off of me or a family member. When resting while on a hike, must have been close to them in the first place as running down "prey" is not the tick's strong suit, but they do try to crawl onto you if you're close enough and that's the only way to a blood meal.

Once, as a kid about age 11, fell asleep while fishing with my back and head resting up against a tree. Woke up, maybe 20 min later, and got up to stretch my legs. Looked at the light colored bark of the tree trunk and saw the largerst tick i have ever seen to this day crawling downward towards where my head was. At first I thought I wasn't seeing clearly and peered real close at it. It was clearly engorged, and was huge, a veritable "tick-Goliath" - huge even for an engorged brown/dog tick, at least half the size of a male stag beetle. My first action was to feel my head for blood - thought maybe it was coming back for "seconds". Obviously, there was none. I was a kid, didn't know it would take more than 20min to "fill 'er up". I've still never seen a tick anywhere near as large. Of course, being a kid I smashed a large rock against the tree trunk until it was crushed, leaving blood on the tree trunk and rock.

james miron
(jimijo) - F
TICKS on 04/29/2006 04:03:27 MDT Print View

Ick, Tick!
Have borne ticks from MI's Upper Penninsula, central CA, ID's panhandle, western MT, OR's DeChutes's river region, northern WI, etc.
Don't know if it's true but once read an article reporting that the longest lived tick in captivity was 40 year's old. Apparently it's the females who seek the needed blood, allowing them to birth their large broods. Far as I know they don't seek you out. Rather, they cling to tall grass, shrub branches and so on. They're essentially in a state of suspended animation; instantly roused to cling to you by scent?, body warmth?, vibration?, and/or sound?
While on a hike in MT my buddy picked up three times the ticks I did. He was wearing cotten sweat pants while I had on light colored and slick surfaced Ex Officio pants with gaiters. Every thirty minutes we'd stop and do tick checks on each other, and managed to pick off 90% of them, the remainder mostly eliminated by a naked body check at the end of each day. Typically, they require 36 to 48 hours to find a suitable body site and insert themselves into your body proper.
This gives you plenty of time to check yourself and check your clothing by turning it inside out and examining it minutely.
Of interst: I've examined ticks clinging to their trailside perches and noted that they are quite quiescent until you get close to them and yell at them. Instantly, all eight (?,many) legs extend outwards like flicking switchblades, the better to grip onto you.
They're at their worst in the early Spring when they're very hungry, and typically aren't a problem by August as heat and dryness significantly limit their activity.
Mostly, they're dangerous to your dog as it's impossible to find them on a breed like my Standard Poodle girl until they've been feeding long enough to swell into the size of your fingernail.
After a 10 day hiking trip in central OR we had to deal with 45 ticks on her, as they were found over a one month period. To complicate matters, since we sleep together, the ticks would regularly migrate my way at night.
The best way to deal with ticks on your dog is to use tiny tipped hemostats, available at military surplus or medical supply stores. Firmly press the tips into the dog's skin above and below the tick's mandibles, then gently close the hemostat jaws and pull the tick's mouth parts out along with a generous portion of the dog's skin in order to insure that none of the infectious tick body parts remain embedded in the dog. Doesn't hurt the dog at all. If you want to be fancy, apply a smear of anti-biotic ointment to the site.
Now, ticks aren't a problem for my dog as I've resumed monthly applications of the anti-tick med, "Revolution" brand, for the months of April, May, June,and July. I figure that the med's toxicity is probably preferable to whatever the tick might transmit.
So, ticks are mangeable and shouldn't limit your willingness to get outdoors.

Edited by jimijo on 04/29/2006 04:06:52 MDT.

Bernie Bower
(Bernie) - F

Locale: Southern Indiana
Souther Indiana Ticks on 06/16/2006 19:01:37 MDT Print View

I know ticks can't fly but I believe they travel on wind currents. I have been on the roofs of homes away from trees and suddenly found a tick moving on my arm.

Ticks a constant and a given in Southern Indiana. When my boys were little we would pull the ticks off and tape them to the calander incase any rings showed up. I've picked HUNDREDS of turky ticks (nymfs perhaps)off of my feet after a walk though tall grass. Lots of benadril and bleach to dry things up.

Earle Self
We ran into a plague... on 06/17/2006 09:37:18 MDT Print View

of them last weekend in the Savage Gulf Natural Area in SE TN. My wife and I were assiduous about applying DEET, and we still had several. One friend, female, was relying on the repellant bracelets and her son picked ten off her when they got home. Another friend's wife (an MD) picked twelve off him. Another friend's wife picked eight off him (neither were wearing repellant). They all appeared to be Lone Star ticks, both the adults and the nymph phases. OTOH, we live in Huntsville, AL, on the SE corner of the Cumberland Plateau - about the same altitute and terrain - and we live in the middle of three wooded acres, and we rarely see a tick. The only reason I can think of that there should be such a difference is that one is allowed to camp only in designated campsites in the SGNA, so the ticks have congregated where the meals are. The Lone Star doesn't carry LD, but it carries a similar disease, STARI...

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Plagues of ticks on 06/17/2006 17:27:51 MDT Print View

FWIW, we used to get many ticks walking around the farm in East Texas, until someone told us to put sulfur in our socks(about a Tablespoon in each). As you walked, it made a little cloud that Once you got over the smell, it was pretty effective.


R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Bitten on 06/17/2006 22:30:17 MDT Print View

There’s an excellent article in the June 2006 Backpacker Magazine about the spread of Lime Disease and Ticks in the US written by Christie Aschwanden & Park Ranger Jordan Smith you might want to read.

shannon stoney
tons of ticks in Tn on 06/18/2006 20:09:27 MDT Print View

I got about fifty ticks on me a few weekends ago, photographing at an abandoned farm in Wilson County in TN. When I went back a week later, I sprayed myself with Deep Woods Off and only got a few, and those were where I didn't spray, around my waistband. My partner sprayed more thoroughly and didn't get any.

Here in Putnam County, to the east, by comparison there are very few ticks. A vet told a neighbor that it was an unusually tick-y year, with 5000 ticks per acre. How do they know that? The dogs have a few more than usual, but I haven't noticed a lot here.

Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
Re: tons of ticks in Tn on 06/21/2006 11:54:47 MDT Print View

Some info here from,2646,10546,00.html

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: ticks on 06/21/2006 20:58:29 MDT Print View

Nasty lil' bugs. You guys got me surfing for info on my own locales for the little monsters. The numbers are lower than some others, but they are around.

I saw this tick removal tool (specialized tweezers) mentioned and available at REI;

Gear Meister
(gearmeister) - F
Re: Re: ticks on 06/22/2006 02:17:08 MDT Print View


Edited by gearmeister on 06/22/2006 02:17:41 MDT.

jeff bumblebee
(weiznit) - F
subject on 06/22/2006 17:12:20 MDT Print View

at this moment me and my partner live in a treehouse we built out of dumpstered rope and fallen logs. it is right in Northern New Jersey, where half the people i know have LD, including my partner. I pull off ticks Every Single Day i live out here. I dont need to repeat any info on LD because its already been said in this thread. But, there is not a place in the world where hiking and living is not an option for modern people, with the exception of ant-arctica.

I would suggest daily checking in the nude, but i would not suggest Not going to the areas with lymes disease, because with even a little caution lymes can be avoided. And LD has already reached epidemic porportions in the North East. Also- using bug spray helps if you dont mind dousing yourself in chemicals.

one of the problems i have finding ticks is that i have a lot of tattoos, the same thing applies to dark-skinned peoples.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: tons of ticks in MANY PLACES on 06/22/2006 21:31:52 MDT Print View

Read the Backpacker articles. Many thanks for the link.

Just a couple of points:

Contrary to one article, better NOT to leave the proboscis (mouth parts) in at the penetration site. Secondary bacterial infections are possible and in some cases likely when this is done.

With the [remote??? don't know statistics here] possibility of MRSA causing a secondary bacterial infection, which can be life threatening even in a clinical/hospital situation, i would recommend, if at all safely possible, removing the proboscis.

The key to proper tick removal is the 2 P's - pressure and patience. Little pressure and a Lot of patience.

Either with tweezer, without squeezing the tick's body which can cause it to regurgitate into the wound and reduce the time it takes for disease causing organisms (including the Lyme's spirochete) to travel to the penetration site and into your body, or using a tick extraction tool (my weapon of choice) exert continuous upward force on the tick. Patience now is the key. You must convince the tick that the pressure will NOT stop so that the tick backs out of its own accord, thus insuring that it takes its mouth parts with it. Too much upward force will separate the tick from its proboscis. Again, DON'T RUSH TICK REMOVAL.

So, Pressure+Patience = Proboscis removal

IMHO, avoid other methods of removal as most of these will either not work, or those that do generally cause the tick to regurgitate into the wound as it makes haste to vacate the premises - not a good thing.

Finally, i have a good friend who has suffered a great deal of damage to his nervous system from properly diagnosed, but poorly treated Lyme's. However, anyone who has nervous system related symptoms should be sure that their Doc has a specialist rule out MS and ALS before concluding based upon a positive Lyme's test that Lyme's is the cause. One could have had Lyme's recently or previously, and then later developed one of these other terrible afflictions. Also, there are other more advanced tests (even some type of genetic testing) besides IFA that can be performed to positively confirm that one has or has had LD. Have your Doc or a specialist explain them. They are newer types of tests and i am largely unfamiliar with the specifics of them, so don't want to offer any erroneous info here.

[Note: This info comes from my own experience and military medical training years ago. I did not first clear it with my wife - a medical professional, so... There are other medical professionals, at least one a neurologist, who participate in these Forums. I hope they will take the time to either add to this info, or correct anything they feel should be corrected.]