Ticking all the boxes

Shooting Times & Country|June 17, 2020

Ticking all the boxes
Dealing with the scourge of ticks comes with the territory for dog owners — but it’s a battle that can be won, insists David Tomlinson
David Tomlinson

ACCORDING TO MY rain gauge, only 3mm of rain fell in my garden between dawn on 1 May and dusk on 31 May, making it the driest month I have recorded since April 2011.

One of the consequences of the drought has been the need to water my new hedge, a conservation mixture of native species, including beech, yew, wild privet and field maple. Curiously, most fatalities have been hawthorn and blackthorn, despite daily watering, and most of the more unusual species have survived.

A welcome consequence of the drought has been an absence of ticks. I have yet to find a single one on my dogs this year. Ticks like nothing better than to lurk in wet, rank grass and they avoid dry areas because of the risk of dehydration. So from a tick’s point of view, it has been a disastrous spring. But one thing you can be sure of is that, though they may be scarce now, they haven’t gone away.

Ticks are at their most active in spring and autumn, but they can be encountered in every month of the year when the temperature is above 7°C. I’ve even seen them as early as February, which is generally one of the least troublesome months.

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June 17, 2020