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Minnesota Soybean Business

Tick Tactics

March - April 2018 by Drew Lyon

Often overlooked, a tick’s bite can become burdensome

In certain swaths of Minnesota, tick prevention and examination is a necessary practice when engaging in outdoor activities. “It’s a very good idea when you’ve been outside to examine yourself for ticks,” says Jeff Hahn, Extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota. “The sooner
you find them, the lower your risk can be.”

Minnesota has two common tick species: the American dog tick (commonly known as a wood tick) and the blacklegged tick (also known as a deer tick). The American dog tick is considered relatively benign; the blacklegged tick, however, is far more dangerous; it can transmit several diseases, most notably Lyme disease. “

With the American dog tick, the risk of disease is very low,” Hahn says. “It’s the blacklegged tick that really carries a risk and needs to be taken seriously.” Hahn says farmers shouldn’t be worried about scouting for ticks in their fields, but growers who have adjacent undeveloped areas near their farms should be cautious. Farmers with smaller fields are generally more likely to encounter ticks because there’s more opportunity for the host mammals to be present, helping move ticks around.“

The ticks aren’t going to be interested in the
monoculture that is a soybean  eld, or most any other ag
 eld, for that matter,” Hahn says. “Anytime they’re walking
in any area adjacent to their  eld in taller grass, then ticks
are a possibility.

MSGA Vice President Jamie Beyer had her own close
encounter several years ago with the blacklegged deer
tick. While spending time at the family cabin in Fergus
Falls, Beyer noticed a ‘bullseye,’ a familiar deer tick
marking, on her leg. It had only taken a few hours for
the bullseye to show. At the urging of her husband, Rod
Beyer, Jamie visited a local clinic.

“I knew instantly and kind of freaked out,” she says.
“Luckily I spotted it soon – I had a friend who got bit near
his hairline, and he didn’t know for weeks. Sometimes you
can’t even see the bullseye, so I was fortunate.”

The doctor prescribed Beyer antibiotics, and told her
the tick could’ve been hosting a variety of diseases, not
just Lyme disease. Outside of some tenderness near the
bite mark, she was  ne within days. But it was a close call,
she recalls with a chuckle.

“It was just one of those years where there were a lot of
ticks,” she says. “I’m glad I got it checked out as soon as I
did. Like a lot of medical issues, early detection is really
important.”

Awareness
The wood tick is usually encountered when they’re
adults, usually in the spring time.  e wood tick can be
found in temps as low as the mid-30s Fahrenheit; Hahn
says he’s seen reported lyme disease cases from as late as
November to as early as April.

“Moisture is always an important factor,” he says.
“They’re more at risk drying out and dying than being
sensitive to temperatures.  The take home for farmers is
they’re active for as long as they’re in the  fields.”
In Minnesota, ticks are most often found in the east,
central and northern sections of the state. But the
environment plays an important role.

“It always depends on the habitat you’re around,” Hahn
says. “People should always be watching for ticks, because
we’re going to see ticks every year regardless. I don’t want
anyone to lower their guard.”

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