Now that the weathers warming up, with temperatures on the rise, we’ll soon be besieged by thousands of biting insects, these bites can be annoying and itchy as well as creating major health issues for you and me.
A few of these include Bed Buds, Bees, Brown Recluse Spiders, Chiggers, Deer Flies, Deer Ticks, Fleas, Head Lice, Hornets, Mosquitoes, Ticks and Yellow Hornets.
Some of the diseases we, in North America have to deal with include; Lyme disease, West Nile. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, La Crosse encephalitis as well as St. Louis encephalitis.
This column will deal with two of those pest we’re most likely to encounter, ticks and mosquitoes
A tick is a small bloodsucking parasite, with many of its species having the ability to transmit diseases to animals as well as people.
There are several tick borne diseases which include Lyme disease, West Nile and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, with some ticks are so small that they are difficult to see.
Ticks come out in the spring, but are active mainly April through September, during the warmer months, about the time when those of us who love the outdoors, head into the woods to look for morel mushrooms, wild asparagus or are out hunting turkeys, but don’t let a little critter like a tick keep you from getting out into the outdoors this spring but don’t let a little thing like a tick keep you from going out.
They’ aren’t a big insect, typically from 3/8 to 5/64” long which live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles.
Before getting into that, below is some interesting information on the tick.
In the Midwest, we have two types of ticks, hard and soft t and where we reside, it’s the hard ticks, found in wooded, grassy, or other densely vegetated areas, those locations where mushrooms and asparagus thrive, while soft ticks live in bird nests, on rodents, and on bats.
Either of these can find their way onto your body and we’re fortunate that no species of tick depends solely on us for us for survival.
Here’s the bad news, female ticks lay from 3,000 to 11,000 eggs annually and it’s up to you and I to be aware of them and do what we can to prevent them from catching a ride on us.
Where we live, it’s the hard ticks that cause us problems and are found in wooded, grassy or other densely vegetated areas while the soft ticks are found in bird nests, on rodents, and on bats.
In the spring, those areas where ticks thrive would be the same areas we’re tromping through, in those areas hunting mushrooms, asparagus as well as turkey hunters who also spend a lot of time afield and it’s easy for both of these ticks to find their way onto our skin.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the best repellents used to avoid ticks, should contain DEET at least 20%, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), Para-methane-diol (PMD), and 2-Undecanone, for treating your clothing you can use Permethrin.
When outside this time of the year, one of the simplest things to do in order to prevent a bug bite is to cover up, wear long sleeve shirts keeping the insect from getting to your skin; preferably a light colored one that allows you to spot a tick or other biting insect and remove it before it gets to your skin.
If you plan on spending a lot of time hunting in these areas mentioned above, you may want to use duct tape around the cuff of your pants, deny access to these blood sucking little insects.
Once you come out of the woods, before going into your house, as ticks can be carried into your home on your clothes, you should check your clothing and gear closely, making sure that you didn’t bring any home with you.
If you had man’s best friend out with you, you’ll want to check your dog, as ticks could be anywhere on the dog, check their ears as this is the easiest place for a tick to attach to a dog.
I you do find tick, the best way to remove it is by using a tweezers, grab them by their mouth and then pull them out, by doing it this way, your chances are best of getting the entire tick removed.
Once you get home, you’ll want to take a shower within a couple of hours as it may reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease and it gives you the opportunity to check for ticks.
You’ll want to check your arms, inside the belly button, around your waste, back of your knees, in as well as around your ears, in your hair and around your waist.
Mosquitoes are another biting insect we deal within the Midwest and can be found just about anywhere, you’ll find them in grass and bushes located close to where you live, with the majority of them, near their breeding ground, in standing water as that’s where the female deposits her eggs.
Not all mosquitoes bite, only the females as they need blood to reproduce.
To limit their numbers near your home, keep an eye on your birdbaths, storm drains, rain gutters that might be clogged, pools and ponds and areas with standing water.
They can be carriers of some of the same diseases that ticks carry, including West Nile, Malaria, Yellow Fever and several encephalitis viruses.
In the United States, Malaria isn’t that prevalent, but studies show that mosquitoes in one year reported over 200 million cases of yellow fever, which makes mosquitoes one of the nastiest and most dangerous animals on our planet.
To be honest, there’s only one way to avoid a bite and a mosquito borne disease and that’s to not go into areas where they can be found and as outdoorsmen and women, we know that’s not going to happen
In order to reduce your chances of being bit by a mosquito you may want to stay away from standing water near you and your home, to not have anything around that would hold stagnant water, by empting anything that holds water. This can be accomplished by changing water that’s and to empty kid’s wading pools when they aren’t using it.
Another preventive method would be to keep your lawn and plantings cut short, as both of these biting insects prefer longer grass and taller plantings.
As with ticks, you’re less likely to be bitten by wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, which doesn’t allow the insect to get to your skin.
According to the CDC the most effective repellents should contain DEET at 30%, Picaridin Ciucaridin, or oil of eucalyptus (pmenthane3,8diol).
Deet (at 30 %) is what you find in many insect repellents was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1940’s and is the world’s most widely used repellent.
Picaridin, (at 20 %) is a synthetic version of a repellent found in pepper plants and the most effective against a greater range of insects.
Several of the repellents sold over the counter that contain Deet or Picaridin are: Repel, Ben’s Jungle Juice and Ultrathon with Deet, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus will protect you from both species.
I know everyone is really looking forward to summer, but you’ll want to protect yourself from the insects as their bite could not only cut your summer short, if neglected, may also be something that could cut your life short.
Gary Howey (Hartington, Neraska) is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide, an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster, and was inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He developed and was the Producer- Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series for 23 years and is the Co-Host of the award winning Outdoor Adventures radio. The new Outdoorsmen Adventures television series begins its thirteen week season on Saturday April 4 at 11 a.m. on KCAU-TV, Sioux City, as well as on numerous Independent stations throughout the upper Midwes. For more outdoor information, check out garyhoweysoutdoors.com.