I have noticed how prevalent ticks are this summer and thought I would pass on some useful information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ticks like damp, cool springs, which we certainly had this spring. Some tips on avoiding them: avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and walk in the center of trails. They can be repelled with products containing 20% or more DEET on exposed skin for protection lasting several hours. Follow product instructions and adults must apply to children. A product called permethrin can be applied to clothing and gear such as boots, pants, socks and tents. Permethrin on clothing will remain protective through several washings.

Tick bites need to be avoided because ticks can carry disease, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. Both of these diseases can be serious. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is generally found in states west of Iowa, but there is a chance it can be contracted here. Many years ago I became very ill (105 degree fever and extremely painful head and neck aches) with something that could have been Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It was never confirmed but the doctor used an antibiotic which is used to treat RSF and the illness subsided. It is important to check yourself, your children, and your pets for these unwelcome hitchhikers Here are some ways you can find and remove ticks from your body:

• Bathe or shower after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and find ticks crawling on you.

• Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand held or full length mirror to check all parts of your body upon return from tick-infected areas.

• Check children for ticks under arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind knees, between legs and around the waist and especially in their hair.

• Check gear and pets. Ticks can come into the home on clothing and pets then attach to a person later.Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has developed some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

• Remove leaf litter.

• Clear tall grass and brush around homes at the edge of lawns.

• Place a 3-ft. wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.

• Mow the yard frequently.

• Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).

• Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.

• Discourage unwelcome animals such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs from entering your yard by constructing fences.

• Remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

I hate to admit there are some creatures I really dislike. Ticks are one of them. I know they have their place in nature’s scheme but I sure do hate to find them looking for a meal on me.