Ticks Are Terrible

Several people got on me about saying I didn’t hear any shooting on opening day of deer season. They pointed out it was bow season. They are right, I had forgotten bow hunters almost always use string silencers nowadays.

Ticks are terrible again this year. I get bit just going out in my back yard and picking tomatoes. If you are bow hunting or scouting for gun season you need to be very careful. Don’t go out without spraying with a good repellant.

Although the CDC says there are almost no cases of Lyme Disease in Georgia each year, a blood test showed I had it about seven or eight years aqo, and every time I mention it someone says they have been tested positive or know someone who has.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection ticks transfer from one host to another. It is supposed to be cured with a round of antibiotics but some doctors say there is kind of chronic Lyme Disease that is very hard to cure. I was sick for over a year, taking round after round of antibiotics, and ended up going to Mobile, Alabama to a doctor that specialized in it.

Growing up we almost never saw a tick, and I don’t think I ever got one on me. But the spread of deer spread ticks, too. Now they are all too common. About 20 years ago I took some ticks I had captured on sticky tape to an entomologists at the Experiment Station and got information on them.

When a female tick lays its eggs there may be several hundred laid in one spot. When those eggs hatch the tiny larvae crawl up a piece of grass or weed and wait on a host. It can be a mouse, squirrel, deer or you. At this stage the ticks are smaller than a pin head and hard to see.

When they bite you or another host they drop off almost immediately. Since you don’t get the itch from the bite for a day or so they are long gone by the time you know you have been bitten. After their blood meal they go into the ground and molt, coming back out bigger. If the host they bit the first time had Lyme Disese in its blood the tick can now infect you.

The small tick climbs back up on something and waits on another host. This time it may be attached for a few hours before dropping off, but are again usually long gone when you know you have been bitten. They are still so small you won’t feel them crawling on you and they are still very hard to see. Since they are more scattered now, depending on where they dropped off, you will have fewer bites. At the first stage you may get dozens at one time.

Again they go into the ground and molt, coming back out bigger. This time you may feel them crawling on you and they stay attached a day or so and is at what we often call seed tick stage. After they drop off the females will breed then get one more blood meal, this time filling up with blood to the big gray stage we often find on dogs. This takes several days.

Than the female, full of blood, drops off, digs into the ground, and lays her eggs, starting the cycle again.

If you find an attached tick get it off and watch the bite to make sure you don’t get the red, infected “bulls eye” typical of Lyme Disease. Even without that sign if you start feeling bad, like you are getting the flu, run down and slight fever, insist on being checked for Lyme Disease if it does not get worse fast like the flu does.

By the way, you don’t have to go hunting and it does not have to be in the fall to get it. I am almost positive I got infected at West Point Lake. After a bathroom break in the woods in April I found three ticks on me, and started feeling bad in late May or early June that year.