Ixodes scapularis – I hate you!

by May 14, 2012Uncategorized

Ixodes scapularis – I hate you!

Throughout my life thus far, I have been the kid who looks at the sun and gets a severe sun burn. I walks outside in the spring and comes back in looking like I have chicken pox. I can bathe in deet (or any other “repellant”) and easily get 20 bug bites. I look like an idiot when I am outside in the summertime; at a friend’s house, out by the fire, I am in jeans, sneakers, wool socks, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, hat and covered in bug dope. And I will have 15 bug bites all over me the next day. I have heard it all: “You’re just so sweet” (I’m not), “They like your blood type” (My blood is just as good as anyone else’s!) and a bevy of suggestions on the type of bug spray to use. Nothing works. It is May 14th and I have already had 6 black fly/mosquito bites and… a TICK BITE!

Over the past few years, the number of deer ticks in Maine has risen and spread. I never use to be worried about ticks when I was little and playing in the fields around my home. The dog might find one in his lifetime. It was not an issue. Two years ago, in Southern Maine, I saw my first live tick when I was brushing the dog. Hubby killed it. Here is the breakdown (to the best of my knowledge) for this year:

Sister – 1

Dad – 2

Leah (the dog) – 2

Hubby – 2

ME – 5

ITS MAY! and I have had 5 ticks on me. One was a dog tick, but the others were the oh-so-wonderful deer tick or Ixodes scapularis to be scientific. When I see them crawling up my pant leg, I just see the red and am usually calm enough to get it off me and kill it.

I am also the kid that will scratch for the next 24 hours thinking that every itch is a bug crawling on me. I hate these things!!!

This weekend, I was outside enjoying the sunshine and nice weather. I went for a walk with a donor from work, had a tick on my pant leg and killed it. I wore my gum rubbers and knew I was all set. All was fine, then Dad and I went to check the trail camera we have started putting out to see which deer are still around. The path is a beaten down path that we can drive on to get to the Sky Condo. I didn’t feel a thing until we were home and I was in the recliner. I scratched my stomach and felt something. I couldn’t get it off me, so I scratched again and came out with a leg under my finger nail. *Shutters* I made a mad dash to the bathroom, saw that it was a tick and rushed back out to get Dad to help (Mom was outside).

Like a pro, Dad put on his glasses, got the nail kit and came at me. The thing did not want to let go. I could feel it trying to hold on as Dad pulled – and won. We had to check to make sure the head came out – Mom had a tick last year and the head stayed in so she had to go on med. But, in this case, everything came out. From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, here is the proper way to remove a tick. I then put hydrogen peroxide on the bite site just to make sure and keep it clean.

Deer ticks are the carriers of Lyme disease, but “the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted” which made me feel better since I know that thing was on me for only an hour or so.

Still, I hate them. Ticks and bugs alike. The CDC does do a great job of giving you information about ticks and their life cycle, how they attach to their hosts and all of that fun stuff but I really wish I didn’t have to worry about it. But, now you can see why I keep a count down of months/days until October. Not because opening day is the last Saturday of the month or because my birthday is in October, but because it snows somewhere in the State in October and snow means cold temperatures and NO BUGS. I think I would do well in Alaska.

Fun fact: I have now itched 4 times thinking I am feeling a bug crawling on me. Urgh!

4 months and 17 days = )


  1. Lucky you don't live in Wisconsin! I pulled 30+ off of me yesterday alone. Just a quick stroll on a trail and I'll be pulling them off of me for the rest of the day. Mild winters are a blessing and curse at the same time!

    • 30+ would have put me into a scratching fit for months! I just saw an article on Lyme disease being up in Maine this year, so I will do a follow up blog post to this. *shutters*

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Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.