I hate ticks.
This year, she took home the award for her first Mark of the Year. Fortunately, he was still crawling when I felt it. Having been diagnosed with Lyme disease three times, I especially realize the importance of tick bite prevention. I know that all creatures fill a certain niche in the natural world, but I still don’t like it. Anyway, as our time outside increases, it’s a good time to remind gardeners about ticks.
If you are not familiar with them, ticks are parasites that live on the blood of mammals and birds but are also sometimes found on reptiles and amphibians. They are part of the spider family and specifically mites.
Small, with eight legs, her appearance is different throughout her life. Ticks attach to a host (who or whatever they feed on) and feed on blood; They come down when they are full. As such, unfortunately, ticks often carry diseases and transmit them to their host.
In Pennsylvania, there are several types of ticks, but the three most common types are the deer (blacklegged) tick, the lone star tick, and the American dog tick.
According to the Penn State Extension publication, Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases (extension.psu.edu/ticks-and-tickborne-disease)
Black-legged tick: Lyme disease, Anaplasma, Babesia, Pantonella and Poisson virus.
American dog tick: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and Powassan virus.
Lone star tick: Ehrlichiosis, tularemia, tick allergy associated with meat and rash associated with southern ticks.
As with most things, we cannot eliminate ticks, but we can do a few things to avoid contact with them. These suggestions are from the above article and from the CDC article on ticks (cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html)
- Avoid areas of woodland and twigs where deer and rodents live.
- Take care to cut the lawn and avoid areas with high grass.
- Create a three-foot-wide plywood barrier around your property.
- Keep any wood piles in an area with wood chips
- Keep a nine-foot grass barrier between wood chip screens, play areas, patios, and gardens.
- Plant deer-resistant plants and/or erect an eight-foot fence around the area to keep deer away.
- Place playgroups inside protected areas and in a sunny location.
- Remove leaf litter.
It’s a useful list but most of us can’t give three feet of wood chip barrier and another nine feet of turf surrounding the areas we use. However, pick and choose those methods that may suit your garden.
- When walking, stay in the middle of the lanes and avoid entering areas with brushes
- Tuck the pants into the socks
- Wear permethrin-treated clothing
- Check pets, bags, coats, and equipment. Ticks can be brought on items like these.
- Use products that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, lemon eucalyptus oil (OLE), para-menthan diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
- Check for ticks often.
- Take a shower within two hours of entering the house and get a full-body check for ticks.
- Process the clothes in a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes, longer if the fabric is wet. Washing in hot, cold or warm water will not kill ticks.
- Check pets often and consult a vet for tick repellent treatments.
- Hold the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible with clean, thin-tipped tweezers.
- Pull up, do not twist or shake, use firm and even pressure.
- If mouth parts remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers if possible
- Clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water
- Do not crush the tick with your fingers.
- Get rid of live ticks by: applying alcohol; put it in a closed bag / container; tightly wrap it in masking tape; Rinse it in the toilet
- See the CDC Tick Bite post: What to Do (cdc.gov/ticks/pdfs/FS_TickBite-508.pdf)
Watch the sting area and if you develop a rash and/or fever within a few weeks of the sting, see your doctor. Tell them when you were bitten.
Last week Fran and his neighbor Jack went to buy tomatoes. They bought a lot but neglected to get the only thing I asked for, a tomato/plum paste. So Fran and I took another trip to the Arboretum and got two Amish paste plants, one red and one orange. I also picked up some herbs and bronze fennel for the black swallowtail grub caterpillars. I also ordered a few end-of-season plants that I couldn’t resist, in particular, the oak leaf hydrangea.
Sue Kitek is a freelance columnist, writer and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] Or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, PO Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.
He plants: Start by sowing sequential crops like beans, radishes, lettuce and spinach to create a longer harvest season. Place the tomatoes when the weather warms up to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Wait a few weeks before you start planting basil, eggplant, or peppers. Start with baby’s breath seeds, cone, zinnia, salsa, eggplant, summer squash, and winter squash. Direct sowing, beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, rhubarb, summer and winter squash. Keep planting celery, celery, cabbage, carrots, cabbage, chopped onions, onion sets, parsnips, and Swiss chard. Transplant or transplant bulbs and summer tubers such as dahlias, cannas, calla lilies and caladiums. Plant bare trees and shrubs. Make sure the soil is dry enough to work. Do not dig or plant in the mud. Purchase container annuals and annual garden beds and fill in bare spots in perennial beds or shrubs. Follow your schedule for seed starting. Check packages for instructions such as starting indoors four weeks before your last frost date.
seasonal: As the weather warms, thin out your plants that have spent the winter indoors. Start with an hour or so on a warm day and increase the time outdoors until nights are regularly in the 50°F range before leaving them out of season. Visit the nurseries as they open up for inspiration as well as new plants. Shop for summer bulbs, too. Apply a compost top dressing to lawns and beds. Test the soil for new beds, and retest the soil in poorly performing areas or those that have not been tested in the last 3-5 years. Cut ornamental herbs. Section when you see new green growth. Divide the hostas and daylilies. Prune and divide perennials that bloom in late summer or fall. Prune back and remove dead, diseased, or unattractive stems from perennials and shrubs, but not those that bloom in spring. Please check the appropriate pruning information for each plant and prune as needed and recommended. Apply spring and summer mulch, 2 to 3 inches deep and positioned a few inches from foundations, tree trunks, and other plants. Spread the protective cap and add more if needed. Apply corn gluten weed control in the garden and schedule re-introduction, usually at four to six week intervals
the lawn: By mid-May, loosen, sow seeds or excess lawns. Apply broadleaf weed control and complete acid projects. By mid-June, apply spring fertilizer treatments. Apply the initial control lobster for the next few weeks. Fill in holes and low spots in the lawn.
homework: Water any modern planting anytime the ground doesn’t freeze and we experience a week with less than an inch of rain. Repair damaged screens and garden hoses. Note the damaged caulk around the doors and windows. Empty standing water and remove anything that may collect rainwater to help control mosquito populations. Provide deer, rabbit and groundhog protection to plants at risk. Reapply taste or odor blockers. Clean and fill bird feeders regularly. Clean up spilled seeds and empty the hulls. Empty, scrub, and refill birdbaths at least once a week. Consider placing nesting materials if you have them.
Clean gutters and direct rainwater runoff away from the home’s foundations.
Tools, equipment and supplies: Stock up on winter gear and replace or repair as needed.
Inspect Spring/Summer Equipment – Repair or replace worn or damaged tools. Check power tools and mowers and send them in for servicing if necessary.
safety: Remove debris from lawns before mowing and make sure pets, children, and others are completely away from the area being mowed.
Store garden chemicals indoors, away from pets and children. Discard outdated ones at local chemical collection events. Photograph storm damage prior to clearance or repair for insurance claims and file them promptly. Anytime you’re outside and temperatures are around 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, watch for tick bites. Use an insect repellent containing DEET on the skin. Apply permethrin to clothing. When working in the garden, wear light-coloured clothing, long sleeves, hats, and long pants. Stay hydrated. Drink water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages. Even in cold weather, apply sunscreen, wear hats and limit sun exposure. wear closed-toe shoes and gloves; Use eye protection and use ear protection when using any loud electrical tools.