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Actually, it's a mixed bag.

Good--I was nominated for a Coyotl Award for "Jackalope Wives"!

Bad--I woke up with a sort of spotted rash breaking out on my stomach next to a line of semi-recent tick bites. (Very widely spread dots, not tightly clustered, not a bullseye, not (thank god!) bedbug bites.)

We do have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the area, but it doesn't look quite right for that. I feel fine, I don't have any flu-like symptoms. Thing is, there's so damn many tickborne illnesses and half of them don't even have common names, so it's off to the doctor I go so that they can stare at it, take blood, go "Hell if I know," and shoot me full of antibiotics. Rashes next to tick bites are a "Don't mess around."

"Don't get bitten by ticks" is not a viable option where I live if I wish to, y'know, leave the house. Alas. (Ironically, this year has been down a bit--hemorrhagic fever swept the deer population last year and the numbers crashed, so fewer ticks come through. But I'm sure they'll all be back next year.)

No, I am not getting guinea fowl. Yes, I know they eat ticks, but then you have guinea fowl.

Any opossums in your area? I was just reading an article on how great they were in devouring ticks (http://www.caryinstitute.org/newsroom/opossums-killers-ticks).

Hope all goes well.


Well, then you have cute guinea chick in the spring, guinea Bob over the summer (and fewer ticks), and Awesome Thanksgiving Dinner in November.

I am not seeing the problem with this!

Eat lots of garlic. LOTS. Every day. Not only does it discourage mosquitoes, it makes ticks less likely to bite as well.

YMMV, however.

Pretty sure that studies have not shown any link between eating garlic and discouraging mosquito bites. (Anecdotally it's never worked for me, and I eat a lot of garlic.) Maybe if you smear garlic juice on all your exposed skin, but then you'd repel nearly everything around you.

Congrats on the nomination! Hope the rash clears up soon.

Why am I seeing this as a greeting card?

Here's something that my wife and I just independently re-invented (it turns out that this is a standard method for entomologists doing tick surveys):

Take a couple of yards of the cheapest "fleece" material you can get (a light color is best, so you'll be able to see the ticks). The material we used was thin white fleece that was only $2/yard.

(optional) Attach a long stick to one edge, so that it is easier for one person to handle. And if it is windy, maybe weight down the opposite edge so it doesn't blow around. Otherwise, use two people, one holding each corner.

And now, take the material and drag or sweep it over areas where you suspect there may be ticks. The ticks will mistake the fleece for a mammal, and will grab on tightly. Then you just need to stop periodically, pick off the ticks, and DESTROY THEM! Mwahahahahaha! Dropping them in a jar with some soapy water or bleach solution in the bottom kills them nicely, as does snipping off their heads with scissors.

We caught close to 50 ticks this way over a couple of days all along the trail that leads the length of our property. The tick numbers crashed after a few iterations, and neither the dog or us have come back with ticks in the week or so since.

This also let us identify the "hot spot". There is a point where a deer trail crosses our trail, and we caught probably 80% of the ticks right there.

I love this so much!

Not even vulturine guineafowl? They seem right up your alley, and so cute in a hideous kind of way.

We had some guinea fowl a while back, and can't really recommend them. They are extremely loud, to the point where our neighbors almost a quarter of a mile away were annoyed by the noise.

I lived down a rural road when I was growing up, and some people near the front of the road kept guinea fowl. They let the flock roam, and my general impression of the inner monologue of a guinea fowl, if it can be dignified with that phrase, is: "What is this large, noisy thing rushing at me with great speed? I shall stroll out into the middle of the wide, flat surface it is rushing down to get a better look."

I never hit one, but there was a steady progression of sad little puffs of feathers on the road as the flock got smaller and smaller over the months, and then eventually there'd either be a large hatch or the owners would replenish the stock because the population would jump again.

How do you feel about treating socks/shoes/clothes with pemrethrin?

But you could have your very own Football Bob! sort of...

Just make sure . . .

. . . that rash isn't shingles. Don't know if you've ever had them or not, but my case (hopefully the only one I'll ever have) started off with three mysterious little rash-like spots on my stomach that made me think something had bitten me. Good thing I went to the doctor and got an anti-viral RIGHT AWAY. As it was I had a couple of days of being rather uncomfortable, rather than OMGPAINARRRGGHHH.

Whatever it is, get well soon!


Tick borne illnesses are a bitch.
Incidentally, I really like guinea fowl. Haha.

but then you can eat the guineafowl

I was on the verge of posting something similar, with the title 'Mixed Bag'. My downside is paltry next to yours, though. Hope it goes away again soon!

Tick researcher here, working right across the border in VA!

You're doing the right thing - almost all of the bacterial tick-borne disease can be knocked out with a dose of Doxicycline taken when you first see symptoms. In your area, there's RMSF (which is extremely uncommon in the ticks themselves, don't know where that dang bacteria is hiding out), but also Lyme (which does not always have the bulls-eye rash), a few flavors of ehrlichiosis (caused by Lone Star ticks, by far the most common tick in NC), and Tidewater spotted fever (a mild version of RMSF, caused by Gulf Coast ticks - if you have an eschar (looks like a cigarette burn) at the site of the bite, that's your best bet).

It's much easier to tell what pathogen you're dealing with if you test the tick, not your blood. With your blood, you have to deal with all that immunology nonsense - with the tick, you can just crush it up and test for the DNA of the bacteria that particular tick species is likely to carry. I always recommend saving ticks that bite you - toss 'em in a zip loc, dated, in the freezer, then you can have an interested doc or the NC health dept test 'em if you develop symptoms after that tick bite.

Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery, and congrats on the nomination!

Heeeey....that Tidewater spotted fever is interesting! One of my welts has a big red irregular blotch around it. I assumed it was from scratching or something, although none of the others have done that. The doctor gazed at it with deep suspicion. Neat!

The big problem with testing ticks is sheer volume. I yank on fifty to a hundred a year, and I don't see myself handing over a massive bag and saying "Well, it was one of those..." Mostly Lone Star, but with the teeny weeny ones it's impossible to tell for sure.

Anyway, I've got three weeks of Doxycycline in my immediate future, so that should knock it all down, lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Got fire ants?

One of the discoveries years ago in Texas was that fire ants like to kill & eat ticks & fleas and their larval forms. In all our years in Texas, we only had 4 ticks show up on any of the people or pets that wandered through our brushy acreage and only one summer of fleas. We didn't kill the ants. I would rather deal with highly visiable fire ant mounds (bites painful, but not carrying any diseases we know of) than lurking ticks that might kill you. Of course, I had a co-worker with Stage III Lyme, so I may be a bit paranoid about arboviruses. Another plus - fire ants like to eat termites, too.....they may be obnoxious buggers, but they fall in my book alongside bees - beneficial and they won't bother me if I don't bother them.

Fire ants will too bother people who aren't bothering them! They came down the wall of my bedroom (my bed being up against that wall, see) and started chewing on my arm!