I live in Northern New Jersey. If these words bring to mind crowded cities, pavement, and pollution, then you do not know northern NJ. Where I live instead is rolling hills, dairy farms, lake communities, and lots and lots of wildlife. More wildlife than you can imagine! We have so many deer that they are only considered a nuisance because they eat all of your plants. Everyone is searching for that “deer proof” plant for the backyard, but it really doesn’t exist. We also routinely see (along with your typical groundhog/skunk/raccoon/rodents) turkey, owl, fox, mountain lion, and black bear. Now, people do still comment when they see a black bear, but they are very common and another nuisance because of how often they get into your garbage. With all of this wildlife, there is bound to be one that everyone fears, and there is, but is not what you think!What brings more fear to people in the area than anything else is…the tick! Yes, it is a tiny bug often not much larger than the period at the end of this sentence that really scares people. They are insidious in this area and scare people like nothing else. The biggest fear, of course, is Lyme disease. My daughter and I had bad cases of Lyme disease two summers ago, and it was scary. I cannot remember ever feeling so sick and did not feel like myself again for a good month despite the fact that I almost immediately started on antibiotics! Our family also has had numerous bouts of antibiotics due to Lyme which has, luckily, been caught before symptoms progressed too far.
So, what do you do? Stay inside and never venture out into grassy areas? Unfortunately, yes, that is exactly what many people do! I can’t even begin to guess how many times I have heard a mother tell her kids to stay out of this or that area because of ticks. They have truly changed lives! But we are not willing to do that! So, off we go with the full knowledge that we will be pulling ticks off our bodies because of where we have decided to venture.
Today my family went on a nearby hike. It was fun and beautiful, but we knew there would be ticks. So, we sprayed ourselves with 40% deet bug spray and off we went. Within 5 minutes of leaving the car, we were pulling the first ticks off our bodies. We all, throughout the few hours there, had no less than 5 ticks on us. My kids scream “tick”, like an Alaskan might scream “grizzly”! Upon returning home there was the mandatory “tick check” which is a full body scan to make sure there are no ticks attached in hard to see places.
Tonight, as my daughter was getting into bed she reached behind her neck and said tick! I lifted her hair and, sure enough, one a had managed to go unnoticed during the night’s tick check. I pulled it off of her and flushed it down the toilet. One more tick taken from this world! The fight continues…