Survived the Freeze

Folks around here are beginning to look on the bright side. After a particularly harsh winter, they’re enjoying flashes of color. Purple crocuses, yellow daffodils, and swelling tree buds promise that the winter has ended and the deep freeze is over.

Yet, coupled with all the goodness are pesky creatures we’d like to forget: mosquitoes and ticks. (I’ll spare you those pictures.) Biting insects will damper anyone’s mood, especially those of us who like to spend time in a natural environment.

And they’re more than just irritating. West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are three examples of serious concerns.

Although one would hope that the frigid temperatures killed some of the problem, it’s best that you abandon such thought. In other words, keep your guard up. Even if Old Man Winter did help us out in this regard — something entomologists won’t know until the data comes in — survival is a trait built into all species, including the tiny annoying ones.

Ticks are especially problematic if you become a host to the blacklegged variety (also known as the deer tick). Most of you know its reputation for transmitting Lyme disease to humans. You know how important it is to prevent being bitten through the use of repellents and other methods. However, if you are not fond of dousing yourself with DEET, consider these two alternatives. The first is permethrin*, although it’s only good for treating your gear and clothes. The other, for your skin, is picardin.

Also, be sure to check the facts by visiting the About Lyme page at the Lyme Disease Association’s (www.lymediseaseassociation.org) Website. Learn how to properly remove a tick if one does get on you. Understand the signs that warn of the presence of the disease. And know that the story you heard, the one in which a person became crippled by Lyme Disease, is likely related to late diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Early detection is key to a cure.

The above-mentioned repellents work for mosquitoes as well, but I still say nothing keeps them away better than wind (click here for a previous post). Campfires work nicely, too. Also, proactive actions such as eliminating standing, stagnant water on your property keeps mosquitoes from being born in the first place. And the creation of habitat for bats and other mosquito-eaters works better than any bug zapper on the market today.

Don’t let this post tarnish the color of spring. Let the prospect of a summer-of-fun continue to excite you. Never hold back from engaging in the outdoor activities you love.

Yes, there are threats out there, but they are ones that can be reduced with knowledge and proactive action. Then you can continue to let the warm season wash over you. Because it really is getting brighter and more colorful every day.

*Please note: I have not confirmed every statement made at the permathrin link, but many reliable sources recommend it for ticks. It is the product I use. Try Sawyer.com if you need help finding a repellent. And for more comparison information about DEET, permathrin and picaridin, click here.

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