Mild winter means tick 'explosion' this spring
Summit Metro Parks officials want visitors to be prepared, not ticked off.
"The last couple of mild winters have resulted in a small explosion of ticks in the county," Summit Metro Parks biologist Rob Curtis said. "One of the best things we can do for the public is make them aware, so they can be prepared."
Spokesperson Nathan Eppink said the park district is sharing information about ticks on social media, on its website -- summitmetroparks.org -- and in park kiosks in locations where ticks may be encountered. Ticks can be picked up on low-growing vegetation any time temperatures are above freezing, but they are most active in spring and fall. Ohio has three types of hard-bodied ticks. The most common is the American dog tick, followed by the blacklegged tick, which is often called the deer tick. The lone star tick is generally only found in southern Ohio. Deer ticks, which are black and often have a rust colored crescent, are about the size of a sesame seed, prefer the woods and can be active year-round. Dog ticks are larger, are brown with a light ornamentation or pattern on their backs, and prefer grassy areas like meadows and prairies. Ticks are blood feeders, meaning they must find a host, take a bite and then drink their meal. They need to feed for at least 24 hours before disease transmission to the host is possible, so the best way to prevent illness is to prevent ticks from even getting on you -- and on your dog.
Ways to reduce tick encounters include: Using a bug spray containing at least 25 percent DEET; wearing a long-sleeve shirt and long pants tucked into your boots or socks; staying on designated trails and avoid brushing up against adjacent vegetation; wearing clothing that is light in color so you can easily see and remove ticks. Tumble dry clothing or gear on high heat for an hour to kill any ticks you may have missed; keeping pets leashed and on trails during walks. (Leash laws apply in the Metro Parks anyway. The maximum length is 8 feet.)
If you are bitten by a tick, remove it using a pair of tweezers, firmly grasping the tick near its head. Using even pressure, pull the tick straight out until it is no longer attached. Check the tick to make sure its head came out, too. After the tick has been removed, wash the area with soap and water. Do not throw the tick away. Place it in a plastic bag, and then put it in the freezer or a container with rubbing alcohol. This way, if you go to the doctor, you can give them the tick that bit you.
Running Spree jogs into third year
Beginning June 1, the third annual Metro Parks Running Spree will include a number of natural-surface and paved trails for beginning, intermediate and advanced runners that can be completed for credit. But don't worry: You don't have to be speedy to earn spree rewards.
"The Running Spree is not a race," assured Summit Metro Parks spokesperson Nathan Eppink. "It's meant to encourage our visitors to be outside and get exercise. You can run, jog or walk-run on the trails. Your time, your form -- none of that matters."
Each participant who finishes at least six runs on any combination of select trails by Aug. 31 will earn a wooden race medal on a commemorative ribbon. Eppink said the medals are similar to those offered by the Akron Marathon Race Series, and the spree is a great way to train for the June, August and September events.
Forms will be available starting Memorial Day weekend at runningspree.summitmetroparks.org, at several Metro Parks locations and all Acme Fresh Market stores in Summit County. Rewards for the spree are free to Summit County residents. Out-of-county residents will pay $10 for their rewards.
For details, call 330-865-8065.
Take a hike in June
- Enjoy "Wild in the Woods" June 2 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Liberty Park Nature Center, 9999 Liberty Road in Twinsburg. All ages can stop by the Nature Play area in Liberty Park along Maple Loop Trail and engage in fun, hands-on experiences with nature. A naturalist will be on hand to help guide people. Getting dirty is encouraged, so dress appropriately. For information, call 330-865-8065.
- Learn what is "Slippery, Slimy and Sensational" June 3 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Twinsburg Ledges Area of Liberty Park. Join a naturalist and the resource management staff will discover the differences between types of salamanders while searching for examples along Ledges Trail. For information, call 330-865-8065.
- A Year in Pictures: Ledges Trail will be June 9 at the Liberty Park Nature Center from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Enjoy this presentation in the shelter about the seasonal changes of the Twinsburg Ledges Area. After the presentation, enjoy a campfire at our amphitheater. For information, call 330-865-8065.
- Join up for the Nature Trivia Hike June 11 from noon to 1:30 p.m., 9999 Liberty Road at the Liberty Park Nature Center. Did you know that snakes don't blink, dragonflies can't walk and frogs have teeth? Discover these and other cool facts about wildlife during this hike. For information, call 330-865-8065.