Living in Tick City!

English: Deer Tick life cycle diagram

English: Deer Tick life cycle diagram (Photo credit: Wikipedia) — Sorry about the language but you get the idea!

We have a relatively small yard but it’s large enough to have a nice border with large shrubs, trees and ground cover around the perimeter. Those are very attractive features when ticks are looking for a home. They work with tick realtors who show them features like nice high, dense ground cover with shrubs to hide in and trees to climb. Throw in some nice mammals like deer and mice and bingo! You’ve got a deal. From those vantage points they can assault mammals with ease – dropping off trees and climbing legs.

So is the case in my yard. Although I occasionally get one, my poor cat Jake gets them every day. He brings the little hitchhikers into the house on his lustrous fur. No spot treatment kills them until they have bitten into his hide which I work hard to make sure doesn’t happen.

The last few weeks have been especially bad. There is at least one, sometimes two or three to pick off. He is oblivious to all this but loves the extra attention. Occasionally one will get by me and I will see the little bugger walking across a sofa or the floor. I always make sure that visitors don’t see them because it’s….well….gross.

Growing up, we didn’t have ticks. The fields surrounding our house were treated with DDT so we didn’t have much in the way of insects. Actually, it was pretty effective in keeping the human population in check, too.

Tick as it becomes gorged with a blood meal from my cat (or me yikes!)

The first time I saw a tick attached to my cat was about twenty years ago. I took the poor thing to the vet because I thought she had little tumors. I thought the vet would die laughing as he plucked out the ticks one by one.

After I moved from that house, I didn’t have tick trouble until I moved here and put in all that lovely groundcover. At first, picking them off was like….ewwww! Get me a tissue, pullease! Now I just pick off the suckers and kill them with my bare hands (which, by the way, you are not supposed to do.) All I have ever seen here are the big dog ticks, not the lyme disease carriers but you never know what lurks behind lovely green leaves.

Since ticks prefer cooler weather, tick season dies down when the temperature soars. Usually by now we don’t see them as active. Besides that’s when flea season starts! Now I do know how to keep those suckers at bay.

By the way, I don’t live in the country. I am a few blocks outside of city limits with other homes nearby all with manicured lawns.

Available real estate for ticks. Low down payment and mammals included.

PS: As I finished writing this post I gave Jake a scratch only to find a tick looking for a meal.

18 thoughts on “Living in Tick City!

  1. Yuck yuck! Grew up with ticks: tiny seed ticks, medium size brown ones with a white spot, and huge grey cow ticks. But here they all disappear in cold weather – along with the fleas – so winter was always the best time to wander the woods and fields. Summer – ugh. Tick searches. Much sympathy!

  2. Bleah! You have my sympathy – ticks are one of the things I don’t miss at ALL from PA. We don’t have them here, thank goodness. Glad you and Jake are weathering it OK though :)

    • I guess you don’t have many bugs in Alaska, do you? We are in our second heat wave with a long stretch of 90 plus degree weather. I am sure you are glad to miss this!

  3. I love how you slip in these zingers: “The fields surrounding our house were treated with DDT so we didn’t have much in the way of insects.Actually, it was pretty effective in keeping the human population in check, too.”

    I had a dog once, Shadow-no-bite, who got ticks. More than once I remembering being in the house and seeing a black nail on the wall where no nail should be. I don’t how or why those ticks got off the dog.

    • Shadow-no-bite? Really? He probably planted the tick on the wall because you named him that!
      Unfortunately the DDT comment was very close to home. A lot of the adults in my hometown ended up with pulmonary diseases. I was fortunate to get out while I was still young with good lungs. We blamed it either on the DDT or the cement dust from the local plant. This was all before OSHA.

  4. I don’t know that much about ticks where we live, but occasionally we hear they have at least come to visit! I think you make a good point about the DDT. I know we don’t want those nasty pesticides, but it is interesting to note what occurs when we don’t use them. I didn’t know that ticks were somewhat different in their ability to transport Lyme Disease, but they always frighten me because of that scare. Poor animals! They are so defenseless unless we’re vigilant. I’m glad you’re at least so aware, but it does sound problematic! Debra

  5. Agreed…those buggers are nasty. Since I ended up getting Lyme disease a couple years ago, I have a special animosity toward them. But, I guess I can’t enjoy seeing the deer and fawns running around my fields if I won’t accept the ticks. Life is full of trade offs. (Yep, I kill with my bare hands too. Says something about both of us I think!)

    • I won’t have another outdoor cat. It’s just too hard! My indoors don’t get ticks and they only get fleas when Jake brings them in. So much easier. (and of course, I don’t have to worry about predators eating them!) You are right about the deer though. I love to see them even as they eat my prized flowers.

  6. Ewwwwww! I know the whole “tick” thing comes with the territory, but I’ve always been a bit squeamish when it comes to ticks. Of course, when your pet is being assaulted by the little buggeroos, there’s no time for being squeamish … you just have to jump in and eradicate them as quickly as possible.

    Your story reminded me of something that happened eons ago. When I was in my early 20’s (we’re talking ancient history), my sister once brought home a stray German Shepherd dog that was absolutely covered in those fat blood-sucking little vermin. I had never seen so many ticks on one poor animal in my life. Despite being squeamish, I spent hours pulling ticks off that poor dog, and bathing her, and massaging oil into her skin. There were so many ticks that she had hardly any strength at all, and no color in her eyelids or mouth. Later, the vet told us she probably wouldn’t have lived much longer on the street, because she was severely anemic from all the ticks. I felt so bad for her, and I didn’t have time for being squeamish. I just had to help her. Thankfully, she eventually got stronger, and my sister ended up fostering the dog, and then, several months later, adopting the dog permanently. She called her Elvira, and the dog lived to be about 14 years old (and was an inside dog most of her remaining years).

    Ticks are not only icky, but they can be dangerous, too. I’m sure glad your kitty lives with someone that isn’t afraid to wage war on those little bloodsuckers. I don’t suppose posting a “No Trespassing” sign on the lawn would help? How about a “Don’t Get Me Ticked Off – Stay Off My Lawn – And Off My Cat” sign? Those dadgum ticks are a pain.

  7. Oh, lovely! We have ticks here but not quite to that level! When we first rescued Honey the dog she had so many ticks on her she was anemic. After we got over that episode I have never seen another one. By the way, one of the reason scientists think we do not have Lyme Disease on this side of the Rocky Mountains is because of the Western Fence Lizard. Something in their blood kills the Lyme Disease virus. So I say “Thank You” every time I see one of those little guys in my yard.

  8. Oh how I hate those critters! I do live in the country and we love to watch all the deer (walking real estate for ticks). I treat our dog, Rozie all year with Frontline and so far, that has helped immensely. If ticks like cooler weather, they must be hiding out now since we have been in the upper 90’s for weeks. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this less than palatable subject. Maybe we will get other ideas on how to cope. P.S. My niece actually got Lyme Disease – a young, healthy, athletic girl, whose life changed dramatically. Took years to diagnose and another year to get her feeling normal.

    • Jake gets treated with Frontline Plus too but they still hop on and come in the house. I have been very vigilant this year because they are so numerous and even in this heat they have been more active than in past years. Maybe they are bussing them in!

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