Recently, a Pittsburgh newscast warned that because of the lack of snow, unusually warm weather, and very dry conditions, we can expect an invasion of insects this summer.
Already bees are swarming and ant colonies are marching but these are not the ones for which you and I must prepare now.
Ticks are the culprits this year that are expected to plague us mightily this summer and we need to take it seriously. Fishermen, spring gobbler hunters, campers, hikers, berry pickers, even just a backyard barbecue can be fraught with the threat of ticks.
The common little black legged ticks, also called the deer tick are the ones that carry Lyme Disease and this thing is no joke. These little ticks can be difficult to spot on your body so a full-body iinspection in front of a full length mirror after every outdoor outing is necessary .
I personally know several people who have contracted Lyme Disease. It is a fearsome affliction with a long recovery time. The most common symptoms are: a bull's eye rash (a rash at the bite site that is made up of rings that look exactly like the bullseye on a target, hence the name), stiff neck, fever, headaches. Many folks think they have come down with the flu but if you know you have had a tick bite and come down with any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. If caught early enough, treatment is usually a heavy dose of antibiotics, but the longer it is left undetected, the harder and longer it will be to overcome it.
Most ordinary insect repellent sprays are not strong enough to combat ticks. Those are tough, hardy pests. There are sprays that combat ticks quite effectively but most of them are so strong that they must not be sprayed directly on the skin. They are used to treat clothes, boots, hunting blinds. The directions are on the labels and you must read and follow them.
I have armed myself for the hunting season with a premium spray called PERMETHRIN. It costs more than the usual insect repellents but it is worth every penny. I mention the name because it is so important.
I get nothing from it. I paid full price for the cans of it that I purchased. At the very least, look for a spray that specifically says it will repel ticks. But also remember that you must not spray it directly onto your skin.
Another danger confronting us in numbers greatly exceeding the usual is the threat of rabies. Some personal friends are involved in this struggle right now. They live in the country and one morning, the father went outside and found a dead raccoon, froth on its mouth clearly visible, in a field no far from their house.
As he told his family what he had found, they clearly remembered that their dog had been outside the evening before for some time and when they had called the dog back inside, he had played with the wife and daughter and even licked their faces.
The immediate question was; had the dog found the dead raccoon - and it certainly seemed a likelihood that it had - and contracted rabies from it? If it had, could the wife and daughter be in any danger? The Department of Agriculture tested the raccoon and soon confirmed that it indeed did have rabies.
So the dog - which had recently had one rabies inoculation a week before but was due to have a second one soon - is now quarantined. Doctors and the veterinarian and the Dept of Agriculture are all on this case now but the question is: should the dog be found to have contracted rabies, what danger are the wife and daughter in? Rabies is spread but the exchange of saliva and if the dog contracted rabies and then licked their faces, what will the danger be?
These things are not trifles to be taken lightly. You can track ticks into your house just from weeding the garden or mowing the lawn. In the last couple years, animals that we never thought of as being rabies threats have come down with it: a deer taken in the extended season last year, several beavers were tested and had rabies last summer.
My writings here are intended to spur you into action. Invest is some good tick spray and use it according to directions. If you encounter any animal that is acting strangely, that seems unafraid of you, that allows you to approach it, is staggering or is exhibiting any peculiar actions, avoid it.
If you have dogs or cats that usually stay outside in the summer, consider bringing them inside at night or securing their pens so that a rabid animal could not get to them.
No need to give up outdoor activities, just use caution and common sense and be properly prepared.