Posts tagged ticks

Ticks on the uptick

Johnson County Public Health is reporting an increase in the tick-borne Lyme disease. Ticks seem to be plentiful this year and it’s important to know what to do to guard againt Lyme disease, which can be debillitating.

Here is some info from the Iowa Department of Public Health and Johnson County Public Health regarding ticks and Lyme disease:

Ticks pose the greatest threat of transmitting infectious organisms when they bite during the nymphal stage of life. Nymphs are most abundant between May and July. Toward the end of summer through fall, ticks mature to adult stage. Adult ticks can transmit infections to humans, but are less likely to do so, according to the department.

Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, are responsible for transmitting Lyme disease in Iowa. Deer ticks are very small; adults grow to be about 2 millimeters long. Deer ticks alone do not cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which live inside some ticks and enter the human body after a tick attaches to the skin. The tick must remain attached for 24 to 48 hours for transmission to occur.

Deer ticks favor a moist, shaded environment, especially areas in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy habitat. The department recommended frequently checking for ticks and offered the following tips to avoid tick bites:

–  Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks when hiking or walking through grassy areas;

 –  Tuck pant legs inside socks or wear high rubber boots;

 –  Wear light clothing to see ticks on clothes;

 –  Wear insect repellent containing DEET when spending time outdoors.

Ticks should be removed using tweezers. Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. Pull the tick’s body away from the skin and cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within seven to 14 days following a tick bite. People may experience a red, slowly expanding “bull’s eye” rash surrounding the tick bite area. Other symptoms include fatigue, head, neck, and muscle aches, fever and joint pain. If untreated, people can develop arthritis, joint swelling and potentially severe heart and neurological conditions.

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Bugged by bugs?

  

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

 Spring in Iowa is too fleeting. Rare are those 70-degree days with cool nights before the air explodes with humidity and bugs begin their annual invasion. I can look at healthy green potato plants today and know that in a week or so the Colorado potato beetle will begin its defoliation quest. Same is true of the lush rose bushes that succomb ever earlier to the dreaded Japanese beetle, a copper-colored foreign invader.

   Because of the devastation they wreak on my plants, the Japanese beetle and potato beetle rank number one and two on my list of “bad bugs.” I was enjoying my backyard garden last night trying to think of others when a mosquito bit my leg. Mosquitoes= #3.

Colorado potato beetle

Colorado potato beetle

   Here are the others: 4) gnats or whatever those little black bugs are that bite behind the ears. 5) chiggers – not an insect, but larvae of a specific family of mites – the Trombiculidae. If you’ve ever suffered through chigger bites, you’ll know why these are on my list. 6) wasps – I try to leave them alone, but they seem ubiquitous this year and more aggressive – building wherever they take a liking, which includes my back porch and my sons’ club house.  7) ticks – again, not an insect, but my general worry over them keeps me from enjoying the outdoors at times. 8) Ants – luckily we don’t have  fire ants like they do in the south, but they’re just a pain when they decide to come in the house. 9) termites – again a general anxiety thing. 10) Emerald ash borer – not here in Iowa yet, but a preemptive disdain for a foreign invader that will someday devastate our ash trees. 

Emerald ash borer

Emerald ash borer

   What makes your list? I’m sure I’ll think of more, now that our perfect spring days are in the past.

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Know your bugs

 

 
Sixspotted tiger beetle, a beneficial insect
Sixspotted tiger beetle, a beneficial insect

   The watch continues for the notorious emerald ash borer, a pest that has devastated ash trees in at least seven states, including neighboring Illinois.

   The emerald colored bugs appeared near Detroit six years ago and have been advancing toward Iowa.

   Having seen photos of the emerald ash borer, I quickly reacted when I saw a pretty emerald bug outdoors earlier this summer.

   Iowa State University has an awesome insect identification program that allows Iowans to e-mail a photograph of their bug and have it identified by entomologists.

   I shot a photo of my bug next to a ruler to show its size and sent it to the site.

   Good news: it wasn’t an emerald ash borer. Bad news: I had killed a sixspotted tiger beetle, a beneficial insect that extension entomologist Donald Lewis said is easily mistaken for an emerald ash borer.

   Lewis tells me the beetles are predators that chase other insects across the ground in woodlands.  They hunt food like a tiger.

   Tiger beetles are ecologically beneficial.  They are not a pest.  The beetles do not bite, sting or carry disease.  They do not feed on crops, trees or houses.  They are remarkably fast and difficult to catch.

   I’m bummed that I caught one, but glad it wasn’t an ash borer.

Lewis says the emerald ash borer is much smaller and narrower and does not have the long sharp jaws of a tiger beetle (predatory

hunter.)

 

   For Iowans who have a bug they’d like identified,  specimens can be submitted to the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic for diagnosis at no charge.

   You can e-mail a close-up digital image to  insects@iastate.edu

   Specimens can also be sent to the clinic.

   Bugs should be dead when shipped and mailed in a bottle, box or padded envelope.  Soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, aphids and ants, and spiders, mites and ticks can be preserved in hand sanitizer gel.  Hard insects such as moths, butterflies and beetles do not need to be preserved, but they should be restrained inside the container so they don’t bounce around during shipment (for example, secure a moth or butterfly inside a box with layers of dry paper toweling.)

    Mail sample to:

Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic
327 Bessey Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3140

 

Include information about where you live, where you found your insect, and how to get in touch with you. 

 For  a photo of the emerald ash borer, go to:  http://www.emeraldashborer.info/files/E2944.pdf

 

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