By Robert Lucke
Recreationists in north-central Montana are experiencing a higher-than-average number of wood ticks when outdoors this spring. It almost seems like the few storms that have been around lately have increased the tick season. Some folks think that a wet spring is a heavier than average tick season. A dry spring and there are fewer ticks.
Who attracts ticks and who does not is a question that has intrigued many people. Some members of a family will come home with 10 or 15 ticks on them. Other family members who have been in the same place will not have a single tick on them. Go figure.
It is thought that the ticks found in the Bear Paw Mountains and adjoining prairies are not particularly dangerous, not being the tiny critters who carry Rocky Mountain spotted tick fever. Remember, though, that not every tick may know that, like all rattlesnakes know they're not supposed to be found above Rotary Hill on Beaver Creek. Best rule of thumb is to treat each wood tick like it is a danger to you.
Don't be like the Havre native who carried a tick around in his leg for a couple of years, referring to it as "his little pet."
Check yourself over for ticks every time you have been out in the brush this time of year. Be sure to look over your clothing as well. Many times wood ticks will be on clothing but not yet on a body when found. Check arm pits and crotch areas closely. Ticks seem to thrive in those areas.
So you have found a tick and it has already bitten you. Get it out. First, a don't. Don't ever pick it out with a tweezers or other sort of tool. There is every reason to think that ticks picked off that way will end up with their heads still in your body. And will continue to feed.
There are two good ways of removing wood ticks. A good way is to light a match and bring it very close to the wood tick's body, being careful not to burn the patient. Normally, a wood tick will back right out upon feeling the heat. The other way better, really is to smear Vaseline on the tick. Soon the tick will not be able to breath and will back right out.
Should those two methods of removal not work, don't fool around anymore. Get to the doctor's office and have it removed by someone who knows how to remove those tiny pesky bugs.
When the tick's removed, burn it. It is almost impossible to squash ticks and they do not need to continue crawling around your bathroom.
Best of all advice, though, is to check often for ticks. Remove them before they bite.