Ticks make a trip into the forest or meadow a serious adventure. It’s dampened my enthusiasm for being outdoors, even as a forest therapy guide. I walk in the woods with permethrin clothing, still spraying myself with (albeit) organic tick repellent. I tuck my permethrin-saturated pants into my permethrin-saturated socks. No joke. It isn’t fun. It’s hot. My body can’t breathe. It’s not how I want to be in the wilderness, and yet it’s how I must be.
I’ve come home with 2 ticks in the past few years. I hated both of them. They cost me, running to urgent care to be sure I got all of it out and getting some antibiotic cream ‘just to have on hand’. Now, after doing more reading, I see that any remnants of tick parts will fall off in a few days, so I can avoid a costly trip to the doctor.
An interesting side note, I told my new primary care physician that I’d had two tick bites in the last 2 years (yes, a miracle that it’s only 2 ticks) and while she recommended that I be tested for the Baby Boomer Hep C, she never once suggested I include a Lyme test in my bloodwork. I still wonder about that. The ticks were only attached for <24 hours and still, I always get a raised red patch as a sensitivity to the bite itself.
I always put my clothes in the dryer before washing them, including my sneakers. Permethrin clothing should be washed by itself so that’s an extra (small) load of laundry to do.
I’ve jumped out of my skin thinking I see a tick, when it’s nothing more than a piece of fuzz. I don’t like being on high alert for ticks and I have to be.
Ticks don’t come off in the shower, contrary to this video I watched. Not once they’ve latched on, at least. You’ve got to check yourself when you get home, top to bottom and showering is still required.
I was at C.E.E.D. in Brookhaven this summer when they released quail. It was a wonderful sight to see! And yet the question must be asked, “will they even eat the ticks?”, and “will the birds of prey or feral cat population make short shrift of the quail?” According to Eric at C.E.E.D., only one percent of the quail population lives to reproduce.
There are permit issues with releasing quail. I came across an article where someone released a certain species of ducks in a protected area and the land management people went crazy trying to capture the ducks before they invaded another species’ environment. Bob-white quail are native to Long Island, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
This also leads me to wonder about quail as a food source. Someone commented on Facebook, “Oh boy, quail hunting!” I don’t know that I’d want to eat a quail that’s been eating ticks. Do we know that quail are immune to Lyme, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever? The only search that rendered any results about immunity to Lyme Disease was Opossums. One comment following the article stated that there’d been another study with a lizard (as if there’s only one kind) and the lizard was immune to Lyme. It begs the question, ‘are we at all interested in why Opossums are immune to Lyme disease?’
You think we’d be releasing Opossums, not quail.
Long Island’s parks and preserve management is notoriously passive. Trails are either passable or not. When I scout an area for a forest therapy walk, I avoid any trails that require me to duck, bob and weave, or worse, brush past long, tangling vines. My participants don’t want that, and I don’t want that for them. Not because it’s inconvenient but because I’m thinking ticks.
I was recently invited to engage in creating a forest therapy walk with an equine therapist in Virginia. At the end of the call, she added, “Oh, you know we have Lyme here, right?” Honey, I live on Long Island, was what I wanted to reply.
Ticks and Lyme Disease are serious threats to not only our health, our reconnection with nature. People don’t want to take off their rubber-insolated shoes and feel the earth beneath their feet. They just don’t. It’s dangerous.
I keep people on trails; wide ones, and if I invite them off trail to converse with a tree, I choose a spot with little to no underbrush. Pine areas are perfect for no underbrush. Otherwise, I choose a location where the trees are accessible on the trail.
Science takes money; money comes with interest. There just isn’t enough interest in what’s happening with ticks and Lyme Disease and not enough money ear-marked for wellbeing to make that happen.