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June 16, 2004

Ticks are common across Illinois at this time. Adult ticks are flattened and 1/8 to 3/16 inch long, depending on species. Due to their size, they are easily noticed by a person while showering and washing hair. Nymphs of blacklegged tick (deer tick) and lone star tick are not easily noticed, being pinhead-sized. In addition, they tend to crawl to the groin to feed, an area where a pinhead-sized tick can be easily overlooked. Nymphs are particularly common during June.

Blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease; lone star ticks and American dog ticks (wood ticks) carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis. To transmit diseases, the ticks have to feed for at least 24 hours. Ticks should be removed by grasping the tick’s “head” where it enters the skin. Pulling slowly and constantly should cause it to release its grip. Other methods are more likely to kill the tick, resulting in the mouthparts remaining in the wound.

Repellents such as DEET (Cutters, Off) or Bite Blocker should be effective when applied to clothes and skin. Permethrin, sold as Permanone, is applied to clothing, where it is effective for several weeks through repeated washings. Permanone is applied to the clothes and then allowed to dry before the clothes are worn.

Author: Phil Nixon


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