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Summer Is Upon Us, and So Are the Ticks Sarah Hutchinson

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astern Ontario is endemic to ticks. Our natural environment of lakes and wetlands with heavy forestation provides the ideal habitat for ticks. Since our summer season is too short not to make the absolute most of, learning how to enjoy the outdoors in tick country is essential. The Black-legged tick (formerly known as deer ticks) is the species that carries Lyme Disease. According to KFL&A’s website, about 32% of ticks collected in our region tested positive for Lyme Disease. Since prevention is always the best step when it comes to healthcare, let’s look at the simplest ways to prevent tick bites: Cover up – long sleeve/pants, in light colours not only show ticks better but are more comfortable than darker colours in our hot summers. Since ticks live in tall grass and bush, wearing socks (tucked into pants) and close-toed shoes also provides a layer of protection. Insect repellant – Health Canada recommends any of the following as effective insect repellants: DEET, Picaridin, Soybean oil, Citronella oil, p-methane-3,8 indol, and the following mixture of essential oils – lemon, eucalyptus, pine, geranium, and camphor. Double-check – always do a physical top-to-bottom, front and back, every nook and cranny check for ticks. Every day. Make sure to feel the scalp and shake your hair out and be sure to perform this full check on children too. Wash and dry – having a shower and washing clothes immediately after being outdoors is also another great way to get rid of loose ticks. If ticks are present on clothes that are left in a hamper, they can eventually crawl out and roam the house, looking to feed/bite. Check pets – our furry friends are one of the main routes for tick transfer into homes. Do a daily physical check on pets too and speak to your vet about other methods of prevention for animals. Deter ticks – make your property inhospitable to ticks – keep grass short, cut back branches, trees, and brush, remove leaf, stone, and wood piles (or at least set them far away from children’s play areas or other highly used areas),

and consider adding gravel or mulch perimeters and pathways. Ticks abhor hot, dry, and sunny conditions. They also dislike cedar, so plant away! No practice of prevention is going to be 100% effective, so what to do if you do get bit? First, safely remove the tick using tweezers or a tick remover (do not burn it or paint it with nail polish, essential oils, or Vaseline). Wash the area of the bite with an alcohol swab. As a Registered Homeopath, I recommend to all my patients to immediately take Ledum 200C once daily for 7 days (available at most health stores or natural health clinics). This remedy is known for its application in stings and animal bites that cause swelling, infection, or redness/irritation – so it’s a good one to have around all summer! If symptoms of Lyme infection develop (fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, spasm, numbness or tingling, fatigue, swollen glands, expanding red skin rash), always seek medical care from a licenced primary caregiver. Immediate antibiotic treatment is usually effective against acute Lyme. Further homeopathic support could include the use of the remedies Borrelia, Gelsemium, Aurum-ars, and others, depending on the individual symptom set. Homeopathy can also address the symptoms of chronic Lyme disease through constitutional treatment (the holistic approach of treating the specific and unique symptom expression of the individual with a single, best fitting homeopathic remedy).

The Great Blue Heron B. C. Norval

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he Great Blue Heron is one of Ontario’s largest birds and is familiar to cottagers, anglers, and other visitors of the province’s lakes and rivers during the warm months. This bird is often seen standing in shallow water where it will stand still or move slowly until it spots an unwary fish and then strike rapidly to catch its prey, either grabbing it or spearing it with its beak and then tossing it in the air and swallowing it whole. Besides fish, the Great Blue Heron will also eat frogs and crayfish and is even known to eat small mammals, other birds, and insects. Adult herons usually fish alone in feeding territories, returning to them each day and even after dark. Herons are superbly adapted to catch their prey. Their neck bones and muscles have evolved to enable them to strike rapidly; their eyes have a built-in zoom lens and three times the acuity of the human eye, and their brains compensate for the diffraction of light in water so that they strike the correct target. In part of their neck, unlike in human necks, the vertebrae are located in front of the esophagus and windpipe to protect these vulnerable structures from injury by their prey. Do you know that the Great Blue Heron also has a built-in bib of sorts to help keep itself clean? The chest feathers continue to grow and fray forming a powdery down that the bird preens itself with, using the powder to remove oil and slime from its other feathers. However, where do you imagine that herons nest – on the ground like most ducks and geese, or in trees like songbirds or large birds of prey? In fact, Great Blue Herons nest in trees and

typically together in a group forming a heronry. The nest is a large, messy looking collection of twigs and other material collected by the male and assembled by the female. Both birds will take turns sitting on the nest, while the other flies off in search of food. Heronries are usually close to water and relatively far from humans. Typically, herons will fly about 3 km from the heronry to feed, but some have been known to fly as far as 30 km. Because heron eggs and nestlings are vulnerable to other predators, heronries confer a protective advantage for the nests. Herons in a heronry are very wary and any time I have paddled near one, the birds give flight and sound the alarm with a harsh croaking noise. A heronry might have only a few nests or as many as 300 and birds will return to the same nest or same heronry for years and a heronry might persist for decades until the trees the nests are in die. For such large birds, once the trees leaf out, the nests are difficult to spot. I have been following a relatively new heronry on the Salmon River for a few years now. In 2016, there were four nests, the next year seven, and this year I counted nine before the trees leafed out and hid the nests. There is also a much larger heronry in the middle of Long Swamp on Cameron Creek, but it is practically inaccessible, even by canoe, except for a very brief period in spring when the water levels are still high. If you want to learn more about Great Blue Herons and other birds, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a wonderful online resource at www.birds.cornell.edu. The lab even set up a camera to monitor a Great Blue Heron nest in 2012-13 and you can find a link to it on the website.

By educating yourself and your family about life in tick region, and using these prevention and treatment strategies, you can feel more confident in enjoying our beautiful natural environment and all that rural Ontario has to offer. For more information on ticks and Lyme Disease please visit the Government of Ontario website, the KFL&A Public Health website, or the National Centre for Homeopathy website. Sarah Hutchinson, Hom., is a registered Homeopath with the College of Homeopaths of Ontario. She has over 10 years of clinical practice in homeopathic medicine. She lives in South Frontenac and works at Kingston Integrated Healthcare.

A relatively new heronry on the Salmon River. Photo by B. C. Norval.

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The SCOOP • June / July 2018

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The SCOOP // June / July 2018  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

The SCOOP // June / July 2018  

The SCOOP is an independent community newsmagazine. Since 2005, we have been covering rural life in the Ontario area north of the 401 and so...

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