What’s your best defense against ticks?

I’m declaring war on ticks — those nasty arachnids that are out for blood.

And in preparation, I’m asking readers to tell me about their best defenses against ticks by e-mailing asarnacki@bangordailynews.com or by sending mail to 491 Main St., Bangor, Maine (attn: Sarnacki).

While ticks were long thought of as a southern and coastal Maine problem, in recent years, reports of Lyme disease (carried and transmitted by deer ticks) has increased steadily in northern parts of Maine.

BDN photo by Bob DeLong
Many people are unaware of being bitten by the deer tick (far right). At the highly infectious nymphal stage (left), the deer tick is about the size of a period at the end of a sentence.

As an outdoor writer for the BDN, I spend a great deal of time outdoors, all over the state, so I’m not particularly fond of ticks. In fact, these tiny disease-ridden creatures planted a seed of fear in me when I wrote the story “Maine tick myths, revealed” last November. I forgot about ticks during the winter, when deer ticks become inactive. But now that spring flowers are popping up in my soggy yard, I find myself thinking about ticks.

I think about them waking, stretching their eight stumpy legs and emerging from the leaf litter they’ve hidden under all winter.

It makes my skin itch.

So perhaps this is a selfish query, but when I’m out hiking through the beautiful Maine woods this spring, summer and fall, I’m going to be viewing ticks as the enemy, and I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a little bit of armor and ammunition.

So, tell me…

Do you use a special insect repellent?

Do you have a clothing trick that works best for keeping them off your skin?

Do you drink a special concoction like pickle juice mixed with Dr. Pepper?

Do you have a product you stand by, such as Insect Shield?

And how do you check your body for ticks at the end of the day?

Whatever works for you, I’d like to know about it.


Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.