Tick, tick, tick …

I found many ticks that look just like this guy crawling all over me after runs in Niagara. Photo from the Welland Animal Hospital website.

I found many ticks that look just like this guy crawling all over me after runs in Niagara. Photo from the Welland Animal Hospital website.

It’s not the seconds flying by I’m talking about right now, it’s actually the number of ticks I’ve pulled off myself this summer.

Have to check myself after every run because I hate the feeling of those little suckers crawling all over me. I hate just thinking they may be all over me. Luckily, none have drawn blood. Yet.

I’m not a big fan of bugs, but I can tolerate them. I used to love trying to find grass hoppers as a kid and I’m happy to feed crickets and meal worms to our little pet gecko. I hate mosquitos. I get the heeby-jeebies when I see spider webs and when I feel something crawling on my skin. Mostly because, these days, chances are good its a tick.

I really hate those things.

Not sure why I’ve found so many this year. I understand they thrive in cool, damp weather and early summer in Niagara was mostly cool and damp. There was also an abundance of the parasites feasting on human blood last year.

Other than being annoying and gross, ticks can infect their hosts with Lyme disease, an infection that can range from flu-like symptoms to neurological illnesses like paralysis. While you can be bitten by a tick carrying the Lyme Disease bacteria anywhere, Niagara is typically not known as a high risk area. Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common carriers of Lyme disease.

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So, what can runners like us do to protect ourselves from becoming a good meal for these miniscule blood suckers? It’s not always reasonable to wear long sleeves and pants during hot summer runs. But, you can spray yourself with bug repellant containing DEET, and be aware there may be ticks in wooded areas and grassy fields. This year, I’ve done a lot more running on the Merritt Trail along 12 Mile Creek, and on the path along the Welland Canal.

Also, check yourself over after a run. Wearing light coloured clothing may help you spot ticks more easily.

And, if you find a tick, you should send it in to your local public health department. It helps them keep tabs on the growth of the tick population.

Click here for more information about ticks in Niagara.