Duncan: Does the presence of ticks in the Off-Island worry you?

Duncan: Does the presence of ticks in the Off-Island worry you?
Duncan: Does the presence of ticks in the Off-Island worry you?

Ticks can carry the bacterium which causes Lyme disease. Experts recommend checking your body thoroughly after being outdoors, especially in areas of forest, long grass and leaf-covered ground. (Postmedia Network photo)

As a homeowner in the Off-Island community of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, the summer season ushers in all manner of outdoor activities related to yard work and maintenance with upkeep of gardens and flowerbeds.

Largely enjoyable, many hours can be spent simply puttering around, pruning here and there, wandering and wondering in constant amazement over a few short months whereby plants grow and deliver a bounty of visual and tasty edibles. In essence, our living space is extended greatly by this seasonal outdoor access.

In tandem, the warmer season also ushers in a variety of wildlife in and around our property. Again, largely enjoyable, what with the sounds of an amazing variety of birds chirping and singing and the occasional sight of four-legged wanderers such as squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and the occasional fox, spring, summer and fall deliver impressive and simple views of nature each and every day locally.

The warm season also brings with it an impressive array of crawling and flying critters of another sort, some good and some bad. Beware the bugs of summer, some might say.

I’m not one to worry too much about insects and the many creepy crawlies that appear in my suburban backyard and I genuinely welcome the arrival of beneficial butterflies and bees as they flitter and flutter about. Ants are tolerated in some areas and eradicated in others with no real rationale as to when and where to eliminate them, really. If they chew on a plant or furniture, they are gone. If they create an unsightly grass-killing mound mid front yard, they shall be terminated. Otherwise, we leave them be and let them do whatever it is that ants do. I believe they are a primary source of food for other creatures, most likely.

As for wasps of any variety, they may occupy and share our property, but they are not to build nests under eaves and porches within view. Those that do attempt to do so here on an annual basis suffer a quick and foamy insecticidal suffocation. Moths and mosquitos are discouraged and swatted at using a variety of methods, but we are not sure why we dislike moths, as after all, moths simply congregate harmlessly around lighting at night, no?

There is no evidence that they have eaten any of our handmade quilts, either. In fact, the only time we use mothballs here is to help eliminate odours in our extremely odorous garbage bin. True, a few mothballs were distributed along the property line once to dissuade a particularly nasty stray feral male cat from marking our territory as his own.

But one dangerous insect has been getting a lot of attention for the past few years, its numbers are on the rise, and it has us worried here. Its presence locally should worry you too.

It’s tick season and ticks can carry Lyme disease. Yes, even ticks can appear in your backyard. Health authorities warn that a bite from an infected tick while performing any outdoor activity can carry considerable risk of contacting Lyme disease itself. This means that doing everyday activities, including those such as gardening and yard work can expose you to contracting the disease. Therefore, vigilance in monitoring for bites and preventative measures need to be taken to avoid being bitten.

After an outdoor activity, it is recommended to check your skin for ticks. If bitten, it is crucial to gently remove the tick with a pair of tweezers within 24 hours. Do not use your fingers because you risk crushing the tick, which would speed the spread of the disease. When removed, the tick should be placed in a sealed container for analysis in case of an infection. People are recommended to wear light-coloured long sleeves and pants when visiting woodland areas and high vegetation environments. This can include while working in one’s garden or yard.

If symptoms such as a rash, fever, headache, fatigue, neck stiffness and muscle or joint pain occur within a month after getting bit, call Info-Santé at 8-1-1 or see a doctor. 

For more information, visit sante.gouv.qc.ca

Does the known and growing presence of ticks in area and our backyards have you worried? If so, what preventative measures do you take to not be bitten? Have you or someone you know contracted Lyme disease as a result of a tick bite?

Share your experiences with the Montreal Gazette.

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