If you don’t want to have nightmares about arachnids, heed my warning, save yourself, and do NOT read this post. I take no responsibility for the paranoia that could set in after learning about ticks. However, I do think everyone should know a few basics and protect themselves.
I have nightmares now. Dark dreams full of little tiny ticks following the trail of carbon dioxide I emit, crawling up my bed sheets, slowly but surely traversing my body in the hopes of finding just the spot to settle down for the night and suck my blood. I wish I could say that dream has no root in reality, but sadly, it does.
The only thing I can figure is that the tick made it to my room on my clothes. I like to run on grass trails in Northern Indiana and had done so in the days prior to this incident, so maybe my little not friend rode up to my room on my socks or a shirt or perhaps a pair of tights. I more than likely plunked my dirty clothes in a pile to be taken to the laundry and that little jerk laid in wait. He bode his time until I climbed into bed, sweetly slumbering carefree, and breathed out a little roadmap of CO2 for him to waltz right up and find my tasty flesh.
Luckily, I felt him tickling my arm before he could latch his gross mouth parts on me. I brushed the offending tickle off my arm and then startled awake, thinking an ant was crawling on me. Nope, that was no ant on the cream carpet. Straight tick.
I didn’t sleep a wink after that. I checked my hair like a crazy person, digging for tick friends in hiding. I ripped apart my sheets, and took any possibly offending clothes straight into a hot water wash. I used lice shampoo that my father the vet said had similar ingredients to tick preventing meds. Apparently, that is terribly harsh on your hair and questionable in its efficacy. He just wanted to make me feel better by doing something and I appreciate that but my hair is a wee bit fried, so I don’t recommend that.
All of this tick madness prompted me to look into ticks and how to prevent them from invading one’s precious space. It is not good, people, not good at all. These little buggers are fine tuned blood seeking machines.
Ticks can sense you coming. They can smell the ammonia in your sweat and in your pee, they can smell hydrogen sulfide in your breath and they can smell it in your farts. They can sense changes in temperature and CO2 levels. They know when you are coming, friends!! They lie in wait on top of stalks of grass, questing for warm blooded hosts to latch on to as they pass by.
(Side note, and I truly wish I could make this up, but I was taking a little pit stop the other day, looked down in the grass, and RIGHT THERE was a tick questing!!!)
So how do you prevent these little blood suckers from stealing from you??
1. Avoid tall grass and wooded areas with lots of leaf litter.
2. Use tick repellant clothing treated with permethrin.
3. Use a repellant that contains 20-30% DEET.
4. Shower ASAP after coming inside and check for ticks all over, including your hair.
5. Examine gear, clothes, and pets. Tumble your clothes on high in the dryer for an hour to kill any remaining ticks.
That is all info from the CDC. I am quite zealous now in my tick preventing. I wear tall light colored socks (easier to spot the freeloaders!) and spray my legs vigorously with bug repellant.
Please take care this summer. My dad the vet says the ticks are bad this year, and my own anecdotal evidence seems to be indicating that is true. I am not going to tell you mom’s story with two ticks, but trust me, you would rather prevent them than find them in your hair!!!!!