I recently collected a nice pile of partly decomposed wood from the hedgerows at my family farm in Pennsylvania. I loaded the wood into my car and drove it back to Brooklyn where I live and am planning to make hugelkultur-inspired raised beds in my back yard. The evening of my return I found a tick embedded in my arm. I removed the tick successfully and have been busy worrying ever since- I have dozens of family and friends who have Lyme and other tickborne illnesses. And then it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps my beautiful pile of partially decomposed wood is home to ticks and tick nests that I just brought them from NE PA to Brooklyn. Is this a crazy thought? The literature about avoiding ticks usually includes suggestions such as 'avoid sitting on rotted logs'. Has anyone else had tick issues (or fears) related to hugelkultur, considering that the magic hugelkultur material we are all hauling around is also a favorite environment for ticks?
The only time I ever visibly saw a deer tick on me was after walking through a meadow. Good thing you checked yourself. I didn't 25 years ago and had Lyme during a pregnancy. I live on Long Island and no one knew what it was back then, but I live healthily to tell the tale.
Once you bury the wood, ticks wont be a bother. Best of luck!
The real world is bizarre enough for me...Blue Oyster Cult
posted 3 years ago
Thank you both for responding, and so glad you were able to heal your Lyme! It makes sense to me that once buried there is no risk but being in brooklyn, it's quite a coordinated and multi-trip effort to get all my materials here so I can make my mounds. Any thoughts on whether, in the meantime, I might see a hatching of some clutch of tick larvae that I've unwittingly brought into my yard? It's all just sitting back there, and I'm supposed to go back to the farm to pick up more today. That is my actual fear, that I'm brining back not just stray individual ticks, but batches of eggs. I've been researching tick life-cycle but don't have a clear answer on whether rotted wood is a sought after place for them to lay eggs or not.
Here is what the CDC has to say about the Tick Life Cycle.
Most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive. Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. Ticks can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Most ticks prefer to have a different host animal at each stage of their life.
How ticks find their hosts
Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. In addition, ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks can't fly or jump, 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 aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.
How ticks spread disease
Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding.
•Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.
•The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
•Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can't feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
•A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a blood borne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.
•Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.
•After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.
Ticks tend to lay their eggs on leaves of tall grasses, the Larve are commonly called "seed ticks".
We have an outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever over here in Turkey for the last couple of years. It has a mortality rate up to 40-50% and is spread by ticks. Because of the bird flu, as a preventative measurement, many animals were culled in 2009-2010 and not so later this thing became a real problem. Numbers are low at the moment but I think it has a huge potential to become a world-wide headline in the near future, similar to Ebola outbreak. For these reasons there is a unproportional media coverage (roughly 50 deaths but it always makes to news). It is also good in a way, I think I know a lot more about ticks then, say, grasshoppers.
When a tick bites you, it does not just bite or suck blood from the surface. It kinda sends a pipe into the bloodstream. That pipe is impressively long for such a small creature. Ticks are small self inflating blood balloons (some have solid case though). Fluid transfer is mostly one-way, to the tick itself. So even though you are bitten by a vector-tick, it does not automatically mean you got the disease. Most likely not. But when you "pull it out", you actually squeeze "the blood balloon" to grab it (resulting the blood and disease rushing back to the body) and then pull. Congrats, virus transfer is 100% complete. Similar to bee stings, squeeze and venom transfer is complete. Thus it is highly recommended to have a medical assistance to remove it. There are medic tools in the market to grab the tick from its "mouth", which is buried into your skin. Its not "fun", hurts like hell and feels like getting stabbed. Unfortunately I had my experiences. And that's why if you see me in my field-duty, I would be fully dressed, with my pants in my socks, long sleeves, with no body part exposed except my hands and face even when it is 120F. There areas to check are generally any part of your body that stays moist; hair, back of ears, armpits or genitals.
I transferred a lot of wood, leaves and grass clippings from Belgrad forest (a forest/park getting swallowed by the city) , which is heavily infested by ticks; many stray animals but negligible wild life. I did not notice any increase of ticks in the garden. I think they just die. We also have a healthy wild population of birds and critters in the garden unlike the forrest (amazing right?). They might be eating them too.
Good post s.ayalp
we use tick tweezers to lift them when we get them. Our dogs regularly receive tick and flea medicine which kills them and birds do indeed love to eat ticks, just not all birds.
On a farm the best tick defense is a flock of Guinea Hens, they will eat every tick they can find along with most other pests insects.