Have ticks always been a problem?

Trailhead00

Explorer
Mar 9, 2005
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Haddonfield, NJ
This may sound like a foolish question but I have always wondered if ticks have always been this prevelent in the Pine Barrens. We all have stories of getting covered in ticks when we go out in the Pines during the warmer months. How did the people who lived out there in 1700's and 1800's stand it? Were deer ticks and lyme disease a factor then as well? I have read old letters and postcards where people complained about mosquitos but never anything on ticks. Was there some sort of bug repellent used back then?
 

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,451
2,095
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Pestletown, N.J.
You just got to love the net.
http://sjmoore.net/doc/Chapter1-Insect-Repellents-Principles,Methods,Uses.pdf

As long as there have been bugs there has been a guy trying to figure out how to keep them away
One of the more vile ones I tried in Maine when I was a kid is this one: http://www.predatorpee.com/old_woodsman.html
I believe the main ingredient was creosote. It was a black slightly viscous liquid and when you rubbed it on you smelled like a telephone pole for hours. The black flies did stay away though.

I often think about how our ancestors dealt with everyday seasonal nuisances in their own frame of reference. I can't imagine being infested with chiggers without access to a good hot shower and rubbing alcohol.
People that lived far from mainstream society like the people in the pines were probably just as well off, having home brewed concoctions to repel the woodland pests.
Like applejack for instance.
:)
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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This may sound like a foolish question but I have always wondered if ticks have always been this prevelent in the Pine Barrens. We all have stories of getting covered in ticks when we go out in the Pines during the warmer months. How did the people who lived out there in 1700's and 1800's stand it? Were deer ticks and lyme disease a factor then as well? I have read old letters and postcards where people complained about mosquitos but never anything on ticks. Was there some sort of bug repellent used back then?
I say they were never this bad. I never got ticks on me 30 years ago in the pines. I never had chiggers either. It has changed out there no matter what anyone says. Winters were much colder keeping them in check for sure.

Guy
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
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Vicksburg, Michigan
I am taking a class this summer starting in July that deals with this very topic--emerging vector-borne diseases.
I think that climate change has contributed to more bugs overwintering as more life stages so they have an extra head start in the spring.
 

whippoorbill

Explorer
Jul 29, 2003
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Bridgeton
I say they were never this bad. I never got ticks on me 30 years ago in the pines. I never had chiggers either. It has changed out there no matter what anyone says. Winters were much colder keeping them in check for sure.

Guy
I agree with Guy and Sue on this. Years ago, ticks and chiggers were rare in the pines. Gosh, the other night I was bombarded by deer and dog ticks. I stupidly went a little light on precautions and it's harder to see what's on you after dark, resulting with more removing of ticks than I should admit here.
 

Sue Gremlin

Piney
Sep 13, 2005
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Vicksburg, Michigan
You're right Sue.
I should have said that throughout history, there has been a guy whining to his wife, "Honey can't you do something about these bugs? By the way, where are my socks?"
How true. :v:

I also think it is due to the increased mobility of people. Tropical bugs (both the crawly kind and the microbial kind) are making their way across borders. And no, before LIP gets all YouTube about it, it's not just south of the border. People in general are traveling a lot. I've been sent to Europe for a two hour meeting, that's becoming more and more common. The world is simply getting smaller. Trade has increased worldwide, too. Plus, there are simply more of us. The population has gone from 200 million to 300 million in the US since the 70s. More people = more hosts, both humans and animals. There are animals that flourish in our presence like mice, opossums, raccoons, squirrels and deer. All of those are yummy treats for a multi-host tick.

Pesticide resistance is probably playing a role in this, too. Organochlorines like DDT, pyrethroids like permethrin, and organophosphates like chlorpyrifos or diazinon have been used extensively. Some tick populations are just not sensitive to these anymore. As the climate gets warmer and more life stages of ticks survive cold seasons and don't go through a diapause, they are more successful. Pair that with being exposed to pesticides, and resistance happens. It's scary to imagine, but the estimate for the lifespan of a chemical before we start to see real resistance to it is about 10 years. That window will probably get smaller as the climate warms.
I just got back from south Texas where I was looking at horn fly populations. We have plenty of them in NJ, they are little bloodfeeding flies that plague cattle and deer. They do not have a diapause down there and are active all year, so controlling them is next to impossible. At least the cattle get a break here, at least for now.

The incidence of diseases has increased and changed geographically as a result of all of this, too.

That is my fifty cents on the subject. :)
 

jburd641

Explorer
Jan 16, 2008
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Port Charlotte, Fl.
I say they were never this bad. I never got ticks on me 30 years ago in the pines. I never had chiggers either. It has changed out there no matter what anyone says. Winters were much colder keeping them in check for sure.

Guy
I've never seen ticks this bad or chiggers either for that matter. It seems to me that when you would see ticks about 25 years ago, they would be the larger ticks and rarely ever the deer ticks. I do recall seeing more of a mix about 12 years ago when I would spend what seemed like months but was actually a few days a week doing wetland delineations in Galloway. All during that time I only got one case of chiggers but now, even being careful, I've had chiggers more than once this year.
Is it winter yet?
 

tugwake

Scout
Sep 15, 2008
62
0
6
Argh!

Boy, I've learned a lesson on the ticks up here. I can't stand the little invaders. I really don't like the idea of any kind of bug on me. I'd have to say that I got the best information from here- wear boots and use deet.

Sue, I love your posts. I spent many years in Environmental Law Enforcement. There is so much to learn and it's all interesting.
 

Buck

Scout
Jan 23, 2007
47
1
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Whiting
I recall reading in one of the books about the pines that a traveler from Europe, writing about the pines in the 1700s, noted how if you stopped to sit down for more than a minute that you became infested with "wood lice" or ticks. Not a direct quote, but I seem to remember this.

It seems the ticks are especially bad this year, though pretty tolerable last year. Last weekend I pulled off over 20 ticks during three days. All on the first day, when I wasn't wearing permethrin....
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
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Near Mt. Misery
Boy, I've learned a lesson on the ticks up here. I can't stand the little invaders. I really don't like the idea of any kind of bug on me. I'd have to say that I got the best information from here- wear boots and use deet.

Sue, I love your posts. I spent many years in Environmental Law Enforcement. There is so much to learn and it's all interesting.
Hi Star, I didn't get a chance yet to welcome you to the forum so...hey there. Yeah, knee high boots or hip waders (they aren't that uncomfortable) with smooth (not treaded) rubber are very effective against ticks and chiggers. Along with deet, or permethrin treated clothes. Also, constant inspection is very important.

Most would agree with me that ticks, while bad, are not as frustrating as chiggers which are the devil incarnate. We have a little while yet till they get bad, but watch for them. For chiggers, a hot shower with major scrubing is a necessity as soon as you return from the woods.

Most of us spend our time hiking the deep woods in the chigger off season. The dead of Summer is best for vehicular travel and canoeing/kayaking.

I am excited for you to be getting into the pines for the first time. There are alot of amazing things to experience here.

Jeff
 

foofoo

Explorer
Sep 14, 2003
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tuesday i took a walk near the forked river mountains. i went up a trail maybe 10 feet and had an assortment of tiny deer ticks the bigger wood ticks and chiggers. it was a mess. i did see a hen turkey with what looked like newly hatched poults. maybe the size of a pine cone. also seen a long all black snake cross the road in front of me. this was skinny. pine snakes are fat right?
 

Teegate

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Pine snakes are not all black so it wasn't that. Maybe a racer???

Guy
 

foofoo

Explorer
Sep 14, 2003
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i used duct tape to pull them off and they were small as chiggers. if they were ticks ive never seen them that small. thats a scary thing. ive never ventured much in the pines in may. i may never again.
 

Teegate

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still a bit early for chiggers, they were probably young ticks. I got a bunch also.
I hear chiggers are out already so just in case we all need to be vigilant. I have not had them yet and they are always a problem much later in the season.

Guy
 

tugwake

Scout
Sep 15, 2008
62
0
6
Hi Star, I didn't get a chance yet to welcome you to the forum so...hey there. Yeah, knee high boots or hip waders (they aren't that uncomfortable) with smooth (not treaded) rubber are very effective against ticks and chiggers. Along with deet, or permethrin treated clothes. Also, constant inspection is very important.

Most would agree with me that ticks, while bad, are not as frustrating as chiggers which are the devil incarnate. We have a little while yet till they get bad, but watch for them. For chiggers, a hot shower with major scrubing is a necessity as soon as you return from the woods.

Most of us spend our time hiking the deep woods in the chigger off season. The dead of Summer is best for vehicular travel and canoeing/kayaking.

I am excited for you to be getting into the pines for the first time. There are alot of amazing things to experience here.

Jeff
Thanks, Jeff! I will most definitely take your advice! I don't want to have to scrub my skin off and I certainly don't want to have to pull a tick out either. Yuck!
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
18
Florida
Deer Ticks

35 years ago I never heard of deer ticks let alone saw one. Wood ticks were common and you went out in the woods protected. Here in Florida, the winters are VERY mild, with the exception of rare days in the 40-50's, you're going to see ticks as the day warms. I heard that Guinea Hens are a great natural way to get the ticks out on your property, but I guess training them to walk ahead of you down the Batona Trail would be a tough act to train...LOL!!!:rofl: