Friday, April 24, 2009

Tis the Season!

This week I had my first bout of poison ivy of the year. I also found my first tick. I think this means that spring is definitely full on! So just remember that with all of the fun that gardening brings, it can also bring some headaches. No need to panic, just be careful. A little education goes a long way! Below are some tips for identifying and avoiding potential problems. I also took a picture as a reminder for everyone of what Poison Ivy looks like. It is actually quite a deceptively pretty plant.

Poison Ivy

Toxicodendron radicans
  • The itchy red bumps you get from poision ivy are caused by your body's reaction to a caustic oil found in the leaves and vines. Caustic and toxic chemicals are an adaptation many plants have to protect themselves from potential predators.
  • Poison ivy prefers areas that have been recently disturbed like fields. It's also well known for its abundance along forest edges.
  • The physical characteristics of poison ivy are quite varied. It can appear as a climbing vine, small shrub or as a ground cover "creeper" The color can vary, as can the leaf shape.
  • If you remember the rhyme we all learned as kids, it can help you avoid it! "Leaves of three, let it be"
  • Some other clues to identifying poison ivy are it's "fuzzy" orange or reddish vines, and twinges of deep red found in the leaves early and late in the season.

How to prevent Posion Ivy:
  1. Wear long pants and sleeves
  2. Wear gloves
  3. avoid touching your skin, especially your face, after weeding and clearing brush
  4. Wash hands thorougly with soap and water to remove any potential oil residue.
  • Reactions to poison ivy can occur within hours or up to 10 days after exposure.
  • Contrary to popular belief, you cant spread poison ivy to other people or to other parts of the body, unless the oil from the Poison Ivy is still on your hands.


  • Tick are often known for causing Lyme Disease and other pathogens. The deer Tick is one of the more common disease carrying ticks in the area. It is about the size of a freckle, so it can be hard to find.
  • Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. Always walk in the center of trails, in order to avoid ticks.
  • You can help deter ticks by:
  1. using insect repellent
  2. wearing light colored clothing
  3. wearing pants, long sleeved shirts and hats
  4. for even more protection and a highly fashionable look, tuck your pants into your socks!
  • Always check for ticks after being outside. Ticks like warm, fleshy spaces like under arms, behind ears, and the behind knees.
For more information about ticks visit

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