Brooding On

Seed Ticks Suck

Now, don't get all put off by my language in the title.  They do.  Literally.

In our backyard, the chickens do a great job of keeping ticks at bay, but the new farm is teeming with them.  So, I love the farm.  The farm is beautiful.  What is not beautiful are John's feet right now.  They are a nasty mess of seed tick bites.  (Sorry, honey, but it's true.  Normally, your feet are very attractive, of course.)

I was pretty much raised a city gal, and while I'd heard of and had a run-in or two with ticks, the first time I remember encountering a tiny seed tick was when Girl 1 was a teeny, tiny one-month-old.
We were living in New Orleans, but had made the long trek back to Arkansas to introduce our little bundle to all of her relatives who weren't able to make it to NOLA for her birth.  Here, she is pictured with MeeMee, her great-grandmother on John's side.  

Later that day, we were at John's parents' house when Amanda, my sister-in-law, came upstairs and nonchalantly asked me whether I had any tweezers.  I didn't really think much of it until I walked down the stairs and found my 1-month-old daughter naked and splayed out on the kitchen island, surrounded by 4 adults who all appeared to be performing some type of surgical procedure on her!  Apparently someone had spotted ALL the ticks, and they were trying to get them removed without causing me too much alarm.  Ahhhh!  It turned out that MeeMee had come in off the farm just before we arrived at her house to introduce her to her newest great-granddaughter.  Later that night, MeeMee discovered that she, too, had been tick bombed!  If we could magnify the picture above enough, we'd probably be able to see the little devils traveling between the two of them!

These ticks, that are in their larval stage are particularly awful because they are just hanging out there on the blade of grass en masse, waiting for something to latch onto.  Once they climb aboard, they pretty much look like dirt that is moving up your body.  They're so tiny, you have to look closer to even be able to tell what they are.  And, that's when you FREAK OUT!

So, I have some history with these crazy ticks, and John is definitely in some pain because of them right now, but I refuse to let them keep us from enjoying the farm, so I did a little research.

As for prevention, try to keep things covered up.  Tuck pants into your socks (it may not be on-trend for fall, but neither are red, itchy ankles) and spray your body with a deterrent.  If you'd rather not douse your body and clothes in products containing DEET, Mother Earth News suggests lemon eucalyptus oil, which can apparently be found in some Repel and Cutter products.

But, when you do look down and discover that your elbow has been tick bombed, don't just start swatting and scratching.  Reach, instead, for your holster and pull out your #1 weapon -- a lint roller.  Scratching and tweezing at these tiny insects will likely result in breaking off only part of the tick.  I know this is disgusting, but if that happens, it's likely that if they've latched on, the contents of their stomachs may be yucked out into your skin as the tick is torn apart.  This leads to serious itchiness and infection.

If you're already to the itchy or infected stage, try taking an oatmeal bath or treating bites with ChiggerX.  Antibiotic cream can help also prevent infection from setting in.

Anyone have any other ideas they can share for prevention or treatment of seed ticks bites?