Natural Highlights: Midsouth Ticks

  American Dog Tick     Deer Tick

  Lone Star Tick      Gulf Coast Tick

Dr. Allan Houston, a professor of wildlife ecology at University of Tennessee, brought us the not-so-great news during his June 20th lecture: ticks are here in abundance, and they are vectors for multiple diseases and conditions which affect people and wildlife. The four species prevalent in our area are the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Deer Tick aka Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis), the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) and the Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum), each of them carriers of a different set of bacteria, viruses, other microbes, and chemicals which can provoke allergic reactions. Some infections caused by ticks can be life-threatening, some are hard to diagnose, some are transmitted with co-infections.  All should be taken seriously and avoided if at all possible...Lyme Disease and its mimics, erlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the red meat allergy triggered by a chemical commonly called "alpha-gal", tick paralysis...and there are more.

A few useful hints and suggestions from Dr. Houston: ticks prefer woody vegetation, but can be found in any habitat and at any time of year. Walk in the middle of the trail and try to avoid brushing against branches.  Wear light colored clothing to faciliate detection of tiny ticks, and tucks pants legs into socks.  Ticks dessicate and die quickly in too much heat, so throwing clothes in the dryer or hanging in hot sun after an excursion will take care of many ticks.  Clothing treated with permethrin seem to successfully repel ticks; pre-treated field clothes are now available for purchase, but you can also buy permethrin, spray your own clothes, and let them dry. PERMETHRIN SHOULD NOT BE USED DIRECTLY ON THE SKIN.  Check yourself and your loved ones thoroughly after time outdoors - ticks are not a bit embarrassed about where they decide to bite you!  Try to make sure ticks are removed before they've been attached for 24 hours or more, and get all of it off, including the head.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ticks

University of Rhode Island, Tick Encounter Resource Center

American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF)

Clemson University, Tick-borne Diseases in the Southeastern United States

Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases Research Center, Columbia University Medical Center


Posted by Cathy Justis at 1:50 PM