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Ticks on the rise – Dress up when heading into the woods

July 8th,2024 | News

he population of the black-legged tick may have increased this year due to a mild winter, according to ACRE president Stephen Woodley. Unsplash! photo

Gatineau Hills residents should be wary of a particular species of tick that is on the rise this summer, according to the president of a local, non-profit environmental group.

The rise in the black-legged tick – also known as the deer tick – is due to a mild winter, according to Stephen Woodley, president of Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment (ACRE). 

“I imagine that a lot of ticks over winter survived rather than being killed off by the cold,” said Woodley. He added that more insects are being spotted this summer for this reason. 

Of around 13 species of ticks that exist in the region, the deer tick is responsible for transmitting Lyme disease and another disease known as anaplasmosis. Depending on the stage of infection, Lyme disease can cause symptoms such as severe rashes, fever, facial paralysis and arthritis, whereas anaplasmosis is characterized through flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches and headaches. He recommended taking the following steps to avoid getting bitten by these small, black pests. 

When entering the woods or grassy fields, dress up: long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks and closed-toe shoes will help prevent ticks from biting, said Woodley. Insect repellent can also be used to keep ticks away. 

“Ticks climb up onto vegetation and they just sit there and wait until something comes by, then they grab on,” he said. 

If residents are worried that ticks might be on their clothing, running their clothes through a hot dryer cycle is a great way to kill them off, he recommended. 

“If you have a tick that’s not embedded, it’s not a problem – you can just brush it off and dispatch it,” said Woodley. “[But] if you have a tick that’s embedded, there are various tools around that can remove ticks.” According to him, these tools can be bought at most outdoor stores and are much better at removing ticks than regular tweezers. He said that regular tweezers sometimes squish the tick too much, which can cause any disease it is carrying to be transmitted faster. 

Woodley stated that most people manage to remove ticks before they are fully engorged, but that if a tick has been embedded long enough, it is a good idea to keep it and bring it to a doctor at a local clinic to be tested for diseases. 

Poison Ivy watch

While there has not been a particular increase in the presence of poison ivy this year, the plant still persists in central Gatineau Hills locations such as Wakefield village. 

As a common plant species native to this area, it thrives in sunny environments such as along the edges of pathways, streams and lakes. Poison ivy can take on many forms, making it sometimes harder to spot: most commonly as having three, spade-shaped leaves close to the ground; but it can also appear in a taller, vine-like form. Longer pants, socks and closed-toe shoes can also help to prevent rashes caused by poison ivy. 

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