Sunday, September 08, 2013

Trying to Manage Seed Ticks

They must be the only downside to late summer hiking in Missouri, those millions and millions of seed ticks that end up on trouser legs after busting through a rich grass-forb mix. I made my first foray into seed tick-infested woods to finish my sampling last week (ill-fated and it set back my recovery by at least two weeks). But this time, I heeded my colleague's advice to help manage the overabundance of ticks in deer problem woods.

Starting around May 1, before heading to the woods, I wrap my trouser's ankles in duct tape which invariably leads to duct tape residue on my field clothes. I really don't mind what my trousers look like after days in the field, and certainly appreciate the level of security this practice affords as a preventive measure to keep ticks away. But this year, my colleague tried something new: Wrap the duct tape around the ankles with the sticky side out to keep the adhesive from staining trousers and to trap seed ticks which you first encounter with each step into the woods. After about twenty paces into rich woods last week, my sticky-side-out duct tape looked like this, hundreds of seed ticks and hundreds of Desmodium seeds:

I've always had romantic notions of backpacking for my mid-September birthday, but having been absolutely destroyed by seed ticks on September 6 and still recovering from surgery, I won't be venturing out to the St. Francois Mountains until after a tick-killing frost.

The sticky side out duct tape managed to trap literally thousands of seed ticks that day in the field, and yet I'm still covered in welts from where the seed ticks made their way into my clothes. When I revisit the hospital for post-surgery followup appointments, I'll have to explain that no, I don't have bedbugs in my house, and no, I don't live in squalor. I just go to the Ozark woods in late summer.

No comments: