7 April 2021
We missed a celebration when it snowed on 1 April so I’ve moved a very important annual event to right now. Today is Spray Your Clothes Day.
Pennsylvania is a hot spot for Lyme disease, a debilitating illness caused by a parasite transmitted by black-legged ticks. Many of us are spending more time outdoors than usual because COVID-19 has made indoor gatherings unsafe. If you’ve taken up gardening, hiking, birding, etc., you’ll want to spray your outdoor clothes with permethrin to repel black-legged ticks.
Black-legged ticks lurk in Japanese barberry, leaf litter, bush honeysuckle, weeds and tall grass, especially in moist environments. When you work with leaf litter in the garden, or brush past weeds nodding over the trail, or step off the path to let someone pass, a black-legged tick may latch on for a ride. If it sucks your blood for 24 hours you could get Lyme disease.
To avoid fumes and protect kids and pets, spray your clothes outdoors on a windless day. I sprayed mine last month so I’m good to go. If you haven’t done so yet, consider this your annual reminder. Learn more at Today Is Spray Your Clothes Day.
p.s. Don’t assume you’re safe if you only go to Pittsburgh’s large city parks. A 2015-2016 study found there are black-legged ticks in the city parks and 20-50% of them are carrying Lyme disease. This is typical in Pennsylvania.
(photo by Kate St. John)