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Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Ticks on 10/27/2012 19:49:50 MDT Print View

Ticks. They're the worst. In my area, Western Pennsylvania, they've increased over the past ten years by leaps and bounds. Some days, I don't even venture into my own woods if I don't have some clothing treated with Sawyer permethrin. It's the worst in the spring and fall here and those seasons, it is unbearable. I can walk the perimeter of the yard and pick up a half dozen ticks. When I was growing up in the 80's and 90's, I never picked up a tick. Now, it's unavoidable.

Why the drastic change in tick population? Whenever I plan a hike I treat all my clothing with permethrin. It is, unfortunately, a necessity in Pennsylvania. Has anybody else noticed this drastic change in tick populations? How have you battled it?

Edited to add:

Not to mention, the dog is infested with ticks unless I bathe her monthly with a permethrin shampoo and apply a permethrin spray. I've never seen an infestation of ANYTHING so severe.

Edited by PennDude on 10/27/2012 20:01:30 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Ticks on 10/27/2012 20:05:01 MDT Print View

Are your bird counts down? Seems like less song birds every year. Ticks seem to be somewhat cyclical out here. Some years are terrible and some years I don't see any. Less is better.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Ticks on 10/28/2012 09:39:44 MDT Print View


That sounds awful! Ticks and snakes are two things I try to avoid. Fortunately neither are common where I backpack.

Everyone's different. One fellow told me he didn't mind ticks but couldn't stand to be around slugs. Slugs are common in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe he was just trying to get back at me for complaining about his Colorado ticks?

Worst combo for me is very hot weather and bugs (ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes, midges, etc.). My one trick protection from bugs and sun is full coverage with clothes and that can get very uncomfortable in hot weather.


Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
changes on 10/29/2012 13:56:46 MDT Print View

I can't remember the details, but I was reading a history of lyme disease, and it noted that on the east coast there were some pretty major changes that have partially led up to the increase in tick populations there.

I believe one was the east coast forests growing back, expanding, with their deer, and with human residences now increasingly existing right at the edges of these forested areas. In other words, suburbs, to translate that. So that puts deer, a key part of the tick life cycle, in closer proximity to human populations than was the case before. Add in that human fondness for planting perfect deer food in their yards, and you have a formula for a lot more tick/human interaction.

There's also, I believe, a lengthening of the non snow/cold season due to global warming, ie, a longer active season for ticks. Temperature changes are much more extreme the further north you go, so I could easily see tick populations rising / changing dramatically as a result of the warming climate.

I wish I could remember the full details, but that wasn't why I was reading that book so those parts I don't remember that well, but it was something along those lines.

Particularly on the east coast, but also sadly in expanding areas everywhere else, lyme is very prevalent, and is certainly no joke. However, ticks don't jump, so it seems like walking on trails would be helpful, whereas bushwacking is going to invite a lot of ticks. I believe dogs get lyme, by the way.

Sweden, to put matters into some perpective, is seeing a roughly 0.5% annual infection rate with lyme in its population now. It's got a lot of woods, forest, and their people like to go do outdoor's stuff. Big problem with ticks in Scandinavia too, the media there runs front page articles on ticks and lyme now every season I think, it's a pretty major issue in terms of public health. The USA is almost certainly seeing a major underreporting of lyme and other tick borne disease infections due to how our almost non existent health care system works currently, along with some other less savory factors.

These are deer ticks however, not sure if that's the ticks are you are talking about, they are the tiny ones, dot or sesame seed sized, depending on their age. Small ticks carry higher rates of lyme and other co-infections, and are harder to see.

personally, I'd rather eat slugs for breakfast and dinner for a month than get lyme. Sauteed they shouldn't be that bad.

Edited by hhope on 10/29/2012 14:03:55 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Deer ticks on 10/29/2012 15:07:15 MDT Print View

Our deer population has exploded since I was a kid; I assume it has there too. I would suspect the increase in hosts likely accounts for the increase in ticks.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Deer and deer ticks on 10/29/2012 16:08:51 MDT Print View

Despite the name, deer are not the main host of deer ticks. In the Northeast at least, the real culprit is mice. The number of ticks can go way up or down from year to year based on the mouse population. And mouse populations mainly follow the size of the previous fall's acorn crop.

So, don't go blaming the deer. Blame the oak trees!

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
of the nymphs, yes on 10/29/2012 16:27:37 MDT Print View

Deer Tick Ecology
Two-Year Life Cycle of the Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis, also known as the Deer Tick or Bear Tick)

deer ticks:

Interesting observation about mice and ticks as well. However, you'll note that the nymphs, which are the ones you should really worry about, feed on humans as well as mice. And are hard to see. They also basically eat one time, and wait to do that for a long while, very weird creatures.

The breeding occurs on the deer, or other hosts, so it would appear that an increase in deer population would yield greater breeding hosts.

Each tick female, if those articles are accurate, lays 3000 eggs.

So I'd guess, if there's a shortage of mice, it's even worse for people in general, since the nymphs will go for food sources other than their preferred one.

One weird factoid, deer apparently do not get lyme disease, for some reason. So for them, the ticks are just annoyances.

Don't count on seeing the bull's eye rash, only about 1/2 of lyme infected people get that, also, only half ever even see the tick.

"Nymphs are the size of a poppy seed. They are beige, sometimes appearing transparent with a dark head. Nymphs feed from May through August on larger animals including birds, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, cats, dogs and human beings. "

take a special note of that, the nymphs are basically caucasian skin colored, and tiny.

Richard Mock
(moxtr) - M

Locale: The piney woods
RE: Ticks on 07/21/2013 08:57:01 MDT Print View

Effin ticks are taking a lot of enjoyment out of the outdoors.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Ticks on 07/21/2013 20:13:31 MDT Print View

The buggers freak me out. I'm so paranoid of them.

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/22/2013 23:49:18 MDT Print View

Maybe this will seem like a strange question, but are there any non-toxic alternatives to permethrin-treated clothing? I have a history of hypersensitivity reactions to even small quantities of pesticides, including pyrethrins. Since permethrin is a synthetic pyrethroid, I am afraid of exposure to it.

My strategy for ticks is to always wear long pants and long sleeves, and often gaiters over the cuffs of my pants. I try to avoid areas with heavy tick infestations, and minimize contact with brush and tall grass. So far this seems to have worked, but I wonder if there is anything to provide some additional defense against ticks for me.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 07:20:32 MDT Print View

Oil of lemon eucalyuptus was approved as a pesticide by the EPA not long ago. You can search here by ingredient and see what brands have been declared effective against ticks:

EPA database

Edited by spelt on 07/23/2013 07:23:24 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 07:38:11 MDT Print View

"Maybe this will seem like a strange question, but are there any non-toxic alternatives to permethrin-treated clothing?"

Cedar oil works quite well. See

I use it on my dog and on myself.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 09:17:52 MDT Print View

I tried Cedar oil for mosquitoes and it had no effect, but maybe ticks are different.

If you wear light colored clothing you can see the ticks easier.

Maybe permethrin just on the outside of your clothing wouldn't bother you. Especially on boots, gaiters, and maybe pants. You can buy spray on liquid cheaply and try it.

Yeah, pesticides are toxic and I try to avoid them, but Lyme disease is much worse?

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Re: Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 09:27:08 MDT Print View

The rage on our area right now is absorbing Jr for gnats and mosquitoes has anyone used this and might it work for ticks as a repellant I have not tryed it myself ...yet

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 10:24:25 MDT Print View

"I tried Cedar oil for mosquitoes and it had no effect"

Works for me in my backyard, the back part of which is heavy with mosquitos.

It wears off faster than permethrin, though, FWIW. I spray it on my clothes and myself.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Toxic Alternatives? on 07/23/2013 10:40:32 MDT Print View

"I tried Cedar oil for mosquitoes and it had no effect, but maybe ticks are different."

There are 150 different mosquito species in the U.S. I've found that Deet is effective with some of them and others seem to find it quite tasty. Stands to reason that there may be some regional differences with the cedar oil as well.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Lose belly fat using this one weird factoid on 07/23/2013 13:32:52 MDT Print View

"One weird factoid, deer apparently do not get lyme disease, for some reason. So for them, the ticks are just annoyances."

I met researchers in the CA foothills near Fresno, studying arthritis in deer caused by lyme disease.

Met others near point reyes studying the effects of lizards in the lyme cycle. Potentially a sort of "filter" in the environment as the
disease could not survive in cold blooded lizards.

Do not know the results of their studies. Maybe they just had a good time in the wilds.

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Thanks on 07/25/2013 22:34:39 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestions, I will check into them.