Friday, June 1, 2012

Ticked Off!

Yes, it's time to talk about ticks. Icky as they are, they're actually quite common. Janet, my step mom, got one on her arm this week while she was visiting her friend's property here in the Annapolis Valley. Ticks are commonly picked up by pets and people walking in long grass and this years first reported bite was in mid April due to warm weather.

So let's start with basics. A tick is closely related to a spider and has 8 legs. Ticks suck blood from a host so it may start out quite small and swell to resemble a raisin, mole or lump on your skin. The most common ticks in North America I believe are dog ticks and deer ticks. You can learn more here. But what you probably came here to learn was:


Many tricks can be used such as smothering them with soap, alcohol, burning them off (dangerous because you can burn yourself) and removal using tweezers.

Doctors recommend a simple 4 step removal process.

1. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, preferably near it's head.
2. Pull the tick out slowly and carefully until it lets go.
3. Check that there are no parts left in the wound site (they feel hard under the skin). If there is something it will grow out on it's own or you can try to remove it.
4. Swab with alcohol and/or use polysporin cream to kill any bacteria in the wound.

Don't panic. While ticks are capable of spreading some diseases, notably Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the US and Canada, they usually have to remain attached for 24-36 hours for this to happen so if you're out hiking just make sure to give yourself a quick check over every evening. Wear pants tucked into socks, long sleeves, avoid sandals and use bug repellant because many brands (containing 10-30% DEET) also deter ticks from biting. Not every tick you get on you will bite right away so try brushing them off. If you are concerned about a tick bite, remove the tick and place it in a jar of alcohol and then take it and yourself to the doctors office for a visit. Chances are you'll be fine though.


  1. Eel, I think that was our property she was attacked on. Sorry! :)

    1. Hi Sarah. Looking forward to meeting you some time in the future. My mom may possibly have picked it up at your place but she was also out at the cottage a lot. Impossible to say. It's normal here in the Spring and I'm told they will not be as voracious in a few weeks. While rambling around on our new place on the weekend I had some on me and Steve got one too, but luckily all of ours were still walking around and hadn't had a chomp yet. I did discover a couple of new helpful tick hints...wear light coloured clothes, it makes them easier to spot! And shake or brush off your pants and socks BEFORE untucking. Steve's crawled up his leg once he'd untucked everything. Ours were the larger dog ticks so they look like a flattened spider and are easy to see. Still icky though!

    2. I was on the property for five weeks last summer with the girls and we didn't spot a single one - we were there July 11 - mid August. So hopefully the do let up in the full summer.

      I'm hoping to come down July 12 - 16 to write a story on Digby scallops. If I get there, I'll look you up!

    3. Mmmm...scallops! We buy them from a fisherman who comes into town once or twice a week and get scallops that are to die for! Give me that over lobster any day. I'll look forward to meeting you and seeing Russ again when he's out this way.

  2. Hi Elizabeth, just came across your recent blog as I've been trying to definitively figure out if what I have on my table (which I've been picking off of myself a lot of lately here on the Aspotogon Peninsula) is in fact a black legged (aka deer) tick. I live up in Gaspereau in the valley (Nova Scotia), but have seen way more of them down here at my mothers'. I've been finding it hard to find nova scotia pictures if close ups of a black legged tick versus a dog tick. There's lots of pictures around but none that are exactly perfect to see differences. My tick looks most like the bottom right one you have in your picture. Anyway, if you, or anyone in Nova Scotia happens to have a picture of a Nova Scotian deer tick, AND a dog tick - could you post it!??

    Thanks so much, and good luck with the farm, hope it's going well!