I remember a time in Pennsylvania when we could bushwhack through dense brush or lie down in a meadow without worrying about black-legged ticks and Lyme disease. In retrospect it seemed like Eden.
Nowadays we have to be careful, especially in May-August when the tiniest freckle-sized nymphs are active. Our best defense is to prevent ticks from getting on our skin. I’ve stopped bushwhacking and I don’t lie down in meadows to look at the sky.
Eden is over. These stanzas from Mark Doty’s poem, Deep Lane (Into Eden Came The Ticks), describe it perfectly:
— from Deep Lane, Into Eden Came The Ticks by Mark Doty
Into Eden came the ticks,
princes of this world,
heat-seeking, tiny, multitudinous …
(photo of early Spring in Cedar Creek Park, Westmoreland County, PA by Kate St. John, photo of tick from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)
p.s. Indeed the distribution of ticks in PA has changed a lot since 1900, per a new study reported here.
See the Pittsburgh Quarterly, June 2019: Lyme: Pittsburgh’s Growing Epidemic