Insect repellent with DEET was always my first choice for protection from biting insects. But DEET has the bad habit of eating the finish off of fishing rods, plastic items and it even makes the wood sticky on my pipe chanter.
So I recently decided to use Old Time Woodsman’s Fly Dope, which contains no DEET and is quite effective in keeping blackflies at bay. Besides that, it has (to me) an enticing scent.
Typically, I’ll douse my face, hands and neck with Old Woodsman’s before going outside. But this does not protect me from critters that might crawl up inside my pants leg. I found this out the hard way, just this morning.
Last night in bed, I noticed a “bug bite” on my inner thigh. I thought little of it and promptly sank into a sound sleep. This morning, I remembered the bite and decided to take a closer look at it.
I recoiled at the sight of a tick, partly dug into my hide. The usual alcohol treatment did not cause it to withdraw, either, so I used tweezers. But it still wouldn’t budge. Finally, by pinching the skin and keeping pressure with the tweezers, it let loose.
I called the doctor’s office and now must go in so that they can determine if I got all of the tick’s parts from my thigh. And since it was on me for an undetermined period of time, they plan to start me on a regimen of antibiotics, a very unpleasant prospect indeed.
Why do I mention this? For your sakes. If you are reluctant to use DEET on your skin, then go ahead and use whatever else works for you. But for your clothing, particularly socks and pant legs, please spray yourself with something containing DEET.
Also, it helps to wear light-colored clothing. This makes ticks easier to spot. I always wear jeans and this puts me at a disadvantage.
Finally, a nightly “tick check” is in order, at least for the next few months, when Lyme-disease-carrying ticks are most active.
I don’t remember having to worry about such things in the past. But times are changing and all manner of unpleasant insects have spread into the State of Maine in the last 20 years or so. Fire ants, for example, are a problem in Down East Maine. These are aptly named…I can say that from personal experience.
The bottom line is to please, do everything to protect yourself from the insidious threats posed by ticks. And don’t forget to do a daily body check.