In the Suburbs / Dealing with a very “tick-lish” situation
I had never seen one before this past week, so I had no idea what to look for. Then my wife texted me one day at school and said she had found one. She said it was quite unnerving. In the three years we have lived in our house we have never had a problem with this nuisance, but sure enough, thanks to the tall grass in our backyard, this unwelcome “tick”-lish challenge has reared its ugly head.
Our tick victim was Patches, our almost totally white Jack Russell Terrier. My wife was petting the dog that morning and noticed something dark under his skill. When she pulled back the short fur, she didn’t discover the tick, she discovered little tick legs moving back and forth. Hysterical that the critter was a deer tick, she rushed the dog over to the vet. Fortunately, he was able to remove the little nuisance easily and learned that it was not a deer tick. I never knew there were different breeds.
Meanwhile, later that week, I returned home from work one night and in stroking the same dog’s fur, I felt something like a little lump. Being careful, not to pull with my hands, I grabbed an old tweezers. There was another tick, who had obviously begun burrowing into poor patches fur.
This little bugger came out more in pieces with the tweezers and I could see the red spot where Mr. Tick had already begun sucking a little blood. Unfortunately, when my wife dropped the tick remains at the vet the next day, she learned that it was, in fact, a deer tick. So far, Patches is all right and there have been no signs of rash or Lyme disease behavior.
We immediately got our other dog Truffie, a very hairy, chocolate-colored Boykin Spaniel, groomed and so far we have seen no evidence of ticks. Of course, both dogs have received one Front Line treatment and we’ll treat again before the middle of June.
Ironically, not a day after we finished with our tick incidents, the CT Post came out with a piece, calling this year, “The Worst Year” for ticks. According to one deer and tick guard company in Brookfield, “Every year you see stories about how there are more ticks and I’m not sure I’d ever experienced it. But this year there’s no question there are more ticks,” said Don Fossi. “The tick population in Connecticut has grown to a certain extent over the years. This is the worst year we’ve experienced, though.”
The article, which was mostly interviews from tick control companies, was very enlightening for us. D.J. Reicb, general manager of Mosquito Squad in Norwalk, explained that “The mild winter didn’t kill the ticks or the ticks’ hosts.”
The reporter explained that “Connecticut is home to a variety of ticks, including the deer tick, which can carry Lyme disease. Ticks attach themselves to animals and live off their hosts’ blood.
“Contrary to its name, the deer tick lives off a variety of hosts.”
Other tick control experts explained that deer ticks can live off white footed mice, which is considered a main host, but it can also live off chipmunks, squirrels, deer and humans. The experts warned that many people like to put playground areas and fire pits at the edge of the cut areas of yards where there may be wooded areas and those are the common hang outs for our “tick-lish” friends. If residents move those items and either spray or have the perimeter areas sprayed, they will greatly reduce or eliminate the problem.
The reporter spoke about a newer “organic tick control spray, made from cedar oil, now available for customers who prefer to not use a traditional synthetic insecticide around their yards.”
I recently heard about a tragic case of Lyme disease in a dog and I hadn’t been aware that dogs can develop symptoms similar to humans - bulls-eye rash, flu-like symptoms and achy joints. The suggestion from vets is to begin a prevention vaccine early in the dog’s life.
Actually, the woman who cuts my hair mentioned that her husband recently had an experience with a tick and apparently did not get the right treatment initially, but he is fine now.
This “Tick-lish” experience was a definite first for us and we’ve owned or rented houses over the past 35 years in some wooded areas and never had a problem. But I’m definitely going to look into getting our yard sprayed or picking up some of the tick spray mentioned in the Connecticut Post.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.