Blossoming flowers herald arrival of spring ... and ticks

SPOKANE, Wash. - Flowers are blooming, spring is in full swing and so are insects, with ticks being especially active right now.

Ticks are active all summer long however you'll start to see a lot of them at the beginning of spring. Experts say to stay away from tall grasses and if you are out keep on the trails.

The Spokane River is one of Steven Bishop and his dog Blue's favorite places.

"I've been walking down here for 20 years," said Bishop.

Tick Season

It's also a popular spot to find ticks.

"Oh, I was covered with them," said Bishop about a recent trip.

With flowers and grasses in bloom ticks are very active. Climbing out to the very edge of small shrubs and tall grasses they wait to catch a ride and some lunch.

"I'll see one crawling across my chest or wherever the dog is lying I'll see one crawling across the floor," said Bishop.

Ticks feed on blood by burying their heads under the skin of people and animals and can cause infections like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Relapsing Fever, Lyme Disease and tick paralysis.

"Tick disease in our area is actually pretty rare," said Steve Main.

Main is an environmental health specialist with the Spokane Regional Health District. He says if one attaches to you use tweezers and pull it out by the head.

"You want to avoid any home remedies like nail polish or burnt matches or anything like that, that could actually irritate the tick, cause it increases the chance the tick will actually infect you with some disease," said Main.

Ticks can't transmit disease until they attach so it's a good idea to wear appropriate clothing when walking trails.

"Good shoes for hiking or walking in the out of doors, long socks, long pants," said Main.

A strong bug repellent with 20-percent DEET helps. There is also repellent that can be put on clothes and lasts through several washings. Main also recommends cleaning out cabins and beds left vacant all winter. Small soft ticks that attach to rats have a tendency to live in nesting material, like blankets, through the winter months.

But for Bishop and Blue the little pests are just part of the outdoors.

"It's spring, whatever," said Bishop with a chuckle.

Another good way to find those ticks is to take a shower as soon as you get home from a walk or a hike.