MARQUETTE - Upper Michigan summers bring blooming flowers, enjoyable weather and barbeques. They also bring some not-so-desirable things-ticks. From April to September they are inevitable, and to fully enjoy what the Upper Peninsula has to offer, you may have to come across a few of these.
The two most common types of ticks you will find in the U.P. are the American dog tick, also known as the wood tick, and the black-legged tick, or the deer tick. These arachnids are not only pesky, they can carry infections, such as Lyme disease.
The American dog tick is one of the most frequently encountered tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfed males and females are reddish-brown and about 3/16-inch long. Females have a large silver-colored spot behind the head. Males have fine silver lines, sometimes resembling lightning bolts on the back.
Shown are various types of insect repellent, including tick repellent, at Gander Mountain. (Journal photo by Danielle Pemble)
The black-legged tick is the most common carrier of Lyme disease in the mid-western and eastern states, therefore, if you get bit by this type of tick, monitor the area for lyme disease symptoms. Adults are reddish-brown and about 1/8-inch long (or about one-half the size of the more familiar American dog tick).
Lyme disease in humans is usually not a life-threatening illness, as long as you can identify the signs and symptoms and get treated early. It is most often a mild illness mimicking a summer flu, with symptoms such as headache, nausea, fever, spreading rash, aching joints and muscles and fatigue. A characteristic red rash appear within 3 to 32 days after a person is bitten by an infected tick. It is usually circular, and can resemble a target shape. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
You should be aware of Lyme disease, but don't be so concerned that you cannot enjoy the outdoors.
Avid outdoorsman Greg Orlich, of Marquette, enjoys spending most of his free time outdoors, despite ticks he has found on himself and his dogs this spring.
"I'm outside all the time," said Orlich, "Either I'm out on my quad, hiking, taking the dogs out or at camp."
He said checking yourself for ticks after spending time outside is key.
"Whenever I go outside I make it a point to thoroughly examine myself and my dogs," said Orlich.
Other ways to avoid ticks include wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts, said Justin Badini, camping department supervisor of Gander Mountain.
"Tuck in your clothes," said Badini, "It may not be fashionable, but even tucking your pants into your socks helps keep them out."
You can also treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin, a tick repellent.
"They'll go on your clothing and they'll fall right off," said Badini.
Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and if you do go in wooded areas, walk in the center of the trails.
Wear a hat and light-colored clothing so you can easily see if you have a tick on you. Ticks are usually located close to the ground, so boots or shoes and not sandals are recommended.
If a tick becomes attached, they should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible, and with a steady motion, pull the ticks body away from the skin. The tick's mouthparts may remain in the skin, but do not be alarmed. Cleanse area with an antiseptic.
Danielle Pemble can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 256. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.