The Ticks of Vermont (Are You Kidding Me?)

No one mentioned the infestation of ticks in their enchanting videos of Vermont. But to be fair, the Northeastern and Midwestern states are all experiencing an upsurge in ticks. And as far as I can tell, these vectors of diseases such as Lyme’s and Rocky Mountain Fever, (just to name tick-carrying diseases), ticks are spawns of the devil.

Photo by Kamaji Ogino on

I kid you not. They are among their disease-bearing or just simply annoying fleas, mosquitoes, bedbugs, and black flies. For those of you who are unaware of the cause of the Bubonic Plague which swept across medieval Europe leaving boiled covered corpses, it wasn’t the rats that spread the disease even if they carried the fleas with the deadly bacteria.

And while this post is about ticks and not fleas, the bacteria that caused the Bubonic Plague is still lingering in Mongolia. So, let’s hope some high-tech geek turned pseudo-scientist doesn’t decide to play with this bacteria leading to an accidental leak to the public. But hopefully, humanity is smarter than that.

So, back to the Vermont ticks. When I relocated 3,000 miles from Washington to the Green Mountain State, I had visions of going for tranquil hikes in forests and connecting with Gaia. Only poor Gaia has been raided by the insect world in the form of the evil ticks. When I landed in Brattleboro at the beginning of April ticks weren’t on my mind. In my ignorance I thought that ticks would arrive in June or July or August problem and that I was safe in April. NOT.

It turns out ticks are around yearlong, but they are at the height of their evilness during the spring and fall, the two seasons where Vermont attracts tourists. These are considered the most beautiful months in the Green Mountain State. I guess the ticks thought so too and wanted to take advantage of the tourists who bushwhack their way among the fall foliage to capture that perfect photo of dying leaves.

Since I was unaware of the ticks in their nymph stage waiting for unsuspecting blood banks in the form of humans and other mammals, I wore yoga bellbottoms that scraped the ground and then because I don’t have access to a washer unless I visit a laundry mat, I just stuffed my clothing (probably laced in ticks) into my duffle bag. Some times I slept in the same clothing. Fortunately, I wasn’t bit by a tick. The angels must have taken pity on my naivety. I even hung out with a dog who had been lying in the grass (most likely filled with tick nymphs) but animals at least take flea/tick meds to keep the hungry vectors at bay.

A week ago, I saw a black speck on my shoulder that I feared was a tick. So, I got out a pair of bad tweezers and ended up ripping up my skin and causing an infection. Most likely, that black speck was a dark freckle and not the dreaded tick. But who around here doesn’t fear getting Lyme Disease from a disgusting blood-sucker?

Photo by Matthew Montrone on

However, Vermonters and people of other tick-infested states still spend time outdoors. They still go on hikes, camp in tents, walk their dogs, garden, and work on farms. Rangers haven’t quit their jobs because of ticks and life goes on somehow. There are also doctors here who specialize in helping people with Lyme Disease. That must be a lucrative market given the tick populations and chances of spreading Lyme (which was named after a town in Connecticut where the disease was first discovered).

Here are a few tips the local experts gave me:

  1. Wear leggings and white socks when you spend time outdoors, especially when hiking or camping.
  2. Stay away from long grasses and don’t walk through hedges and bushes (don’t bushwhack)
  3. Wear a repellant (the natural ones work)
  4. Cover your arms and legs with clothing (the tighter weave the better)
  5. Wear light color clothing so you can spot the ticks and pull them off
  6. Check for ticks on your body twice a day
  7. Use a good pair of tweezers to yank the ticks out (and pull straight up and don’t twist the tick)
  8. Toss the ticks into a jar with alcohol (it kills them)
  9. One expert said to toss your clothing into the dryer for 10 minutes (prior to washing the clothing) to kill the ticks
  10. You have up to 36 hours to remove the tick before acquiring Lyme Disease (but if you have had a tick visit a doctor anyway)

I add:

  1. Don’t wear your shoes in the house or you might track in the ticks and fleas
  2. When you return from a dog walk or hike in nature remove your clothing (if you have dryer, toss the clothing in the dryer for 10 minutes)
  3. Try rubbing sesame oil on your body (I watched a video where sesame oil repelled ticks)
  4. Carry any of the following stones on you (said by metaphysical practitioners to ward off ticks): Amethyst, amber (not a stone but sap from a tree), and black tourmaline
  5. Protect yourself but don’t focus on the tick

Hiding places for ticks:

Dry leaves

Underside of grass and leaves


Tall grass

On other mammals

Possibly your clothing after you spent time outdoors

I still think that fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, bedbugs, and blackflies are the devil’s revenge on humanity. I say that with tongue and cheek. But if any of us were to spend time in Hades, I’m sure it would be overrun with vectors, scorpions, and poisonous snakes. I know that the ticks and mosquitoes certain ruin any chance of enjoying the enchanting forests and meadows of the Green Mountain State. And it’s not like heading to Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, or Massachusetts will solve the problem. The invasive ticks are hardy disease-carriers with a mission to drive us all insane.

If you need to learn more about ticks and the diseases they carry, check with your local health department. You might also call the Poison Control Center in your area if you are bitten by a tick. And check with your medical doctor too.

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