Ticks! A Concern for Hunters in 2020
Updated: Aug 25, 2020
I have been reading reports that a new tick is spreading throughout the eastern United States: the Asian Longhorned Tick. Experts are predicting it will adversely affect wildlife and livestock as it becomes more common.
Here in Ohio, we have not seen this new tick as yet, but states east and south of Ohio are reporting them as of July 2020. When they get here, we will have four species of ticks to watch for. These are the regular dog tick, the deer tick (also called Blacklegged Tick), the Lone Star Tick, and now the Asian Longhorned Tick. All ticks can carry diseases known to affect humans and animals.
Regular dog ticks have always been here. We found them on us after playing outdoors as children. In Ohio, we find them in open fields from April through August. They are large enough to easily be seen and felt, and they usually move toward the heads of their hosts. They are known to carry some tick-related diseases, so should be removed immediately if found on your body.
Deer Ticks (in photo above) moved into my area about 20 years ago. I remember finding them on me at a field trial in Aldie, Virginia, a few years before seeing them in Ohio. These ticks can be found in the very small (larval) stage as in the picture above, or as slightly larger adults. They are most dangerous because of the threat of Lyme disease, named after Lyme, Connecticut where they were first reported.. Since they apparently need 48 hours to transmit the disease, early removal is critical. I have noticed they can attach themselves to ANY part of the body, so a full body check is necessary. Usually deer ticks are found in leaf litter in or near forested areas. They can be out any time the temperature is above 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.
Lone Star ticks came to Ohio around the same time as deer ticks, or slightly after. These ticks are slightly larger than a deer tick. Bites from this tick can cause an allergy to red meat and pork. I see them mostly near leaf litter in the same habitat as deer ticks.
Asian Longhorned Ticks apparently also carry several tick-related diseases. I am sure I will learn more about them in coming years!
On hounds and people, early tick removal is important. I have learned to do a careful full body scan of myself after EVERY outing where I am in woods or fields, even during winter. I have not found a spray that will effectively prevent ticks, so body checks are critical. On hounds, dips, tick collars, and topical solutions are available. Some people even use parts of cow tags as an insecticide for their hounds. Care is needed with anything applied to hounds to prevent overdosing.
My primary method for tick avoidance during summer especially is to hunt early mornings while the dew is heavy, or on mornings after an evening rainstorm. Ticks are not very active while the grasses are wet, but start to emerge as soon as the sunshine dries things. So by getting out early while it's still cool and wet, I can get the hounds some work and be home by mid-morning, mostly tick-free!
Ticks are here to stay, so we may as well learn to deal with them. They are a challenge for anyone spending time outdoors in 2020 and beyond.
UPDATE: Within 2 weeks of this posting, an Asian Longhorned Tick reportedly was found on a stray dog in Gallia County, Ohio, so they are here now. Gallia County is a county where I do a lot of hunting.