newsletter may 2019

Newsletter May 2019

“Ticks and Lyme Disease”

Email from a member:

There are few experiences more rewarding than coming out of the timber with a bounty of morel mushrooms in tow, but please be aware that there may be (and usually) is an unwanted tick accompanying you as well. I don’t know where they hide, but even after a thorough check one of these pesky hitchhikers seem to magically show up.

In the past, I never gave it a second thought other than to remove the little fella and go on with my day. Those thoughts went away on an April day in 2010 here in Central Iowa.  After removing a tick nymph that had been stuck on my wife for no longer than 24 hours, an immediate 50-cent piece sized red area appeared.  A nymph is pictured below on the right.

Had we known, the antibiotic doxycycline is the best immediate treatment.  Take this pill (with food) for two weeks and you shouldn’t contract the illness.  I now keep a bottle of it at home. We actually had gone to our doctor so he could look at the site on her back, and he mentioned doxycycline, but he didn’t prescribe it!  Two weeks later, the spirochetes had traveled into her central nervous system (spine) and she exhibited all sorts of symptoms: fast heart rate, inability to walk or speak correctly, joint pain, maddening itching.  The list goes on.

My wife contracted Lyme disease in the spring of 2010, and passed away in March of 2015 from the effects. I still will continue to hit the timber every spring, but better equipped with Permethrin that is sprayed on my mushroom clothes.  It seems to work.  My concern is that the established medical community still denies that there is a chronic Lyme disease epidemic happening in our country, yet my veterinarian says his office treats horses, cattle, dogs and cats every year for Lyme. For all of my fellow hunters, please be aware of this deadly virus that is everywhere in our country.

For more information go to the American Lyme Disease Foundation @

Wood Ticks and Deer Ticks

       The 2019 Morel season overall regarding ticks was far below average, thank God! But I remember the 2013 Morel season was my worst ever for tick infestations I have ever encountered. I would spray my pantlegs, socks, shoes, everywhere, and they would still crawl up my legs. I did one 5 minute scouting walk in a place in Minnesota in early June, went back to the truck, and looked down, I had 45 ticks crawling  on my legs that I had to pick off! I usually go through a whole season and maybe get one or two tick  bites total. This year I have had about 30! I have never seen anything like it! I have always been paranoid about getting Lyme Disease, heard so many horror stories but  here is some good news; If you find a deer tick embedded and get it out and off of you within 48 hours, you should not get Lyme Disease.

       It is so so important to check yourself thoroughly after returning home from the woods, shower off good, and check a second time! Once they bite, and borough in, after 48 hours is when you are at a high risk of Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease does have good positive treatments now thank goodness. So even if you miss it, and get the disease, it is completely treatable now. Wood ticks do not carry Lyme Disease but I still don’t like them on me!

The beginnings of Lyme Disease shows up like a “bulls-eye”:

An Adult Female Tick :

       Ticks satisfy all of their nutritional requirements on a diet of blood, a practice known as hemptosophy. They extract the blood by cutting a hole in the host’s epidermis (skin), into which they insert their hypostome, likely keeping the blood from clotting by excreting an anticoagulant. Blood is a requirement for ticks surviving and moving from one stage of their life to the next. As such, ticks unable to find a host to feed on will die.Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals’ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture and vibrations. They are incapable of flying or jumping, but many tick species wait in a position known as “questing”. While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs onto the host. Some ticks will attach quickly while others will wander looking for thinner skin like the ear. Depending on the species and the life stage, preparing to feed can take from ten minutes to two hours. On locating a suitable feeding spot, the tick grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.

A deer with hundreds of tick  bites around its ears:

     Use insect repellents and be sure to check yourself thoroughly immediately after foraging in the woods.