Tick Safety Tips!

Stay safe in the outdoors with these easy tick tips! Photo credit NYC.gov.

Tick Safety Tips! Ticks and what you need to know to stay safe! It is that time of year in the Smoky Mountains. Summertime and outdoor activities brings the risk of exposure to ticks for you and your pets. Some basic guidelines for reducing your chances of encountering ticks include avoiding wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and abundant leaf litter. Another great tip is always walk in the middle of trails while hiking. For those bushwhackers out there keep reading to learn how to protect yourself with these facts provided by the CDC.

To repel ticks on skin and clothing always use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours and be sure to follow the instructions included on the product. Parents should be cautious when applying these products to children being careful to avoid the eyes, mouth and nose! Products that contain permethrin are best used on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is sometimes available and may provide extended protection. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a great guide to selection a repellent.

How to find and remove ticks from your body!

  • Showering within two hours of being outdoors can aid in washing off ticks that have not begun feeding on you.

  • Have a loved one, or someone you are not too modest around, to

    Have a friend give you a post hike tick check. Photo credit: Vermont Dept. of Health.

    conduct a full body search. Pay close attention to areas that remain moist like armpits, belly buttons, hair and the crotch area.

  • Check all gear carefully and take a close look at your pets. Those furry friends can’t tell you when they have a tick on them.

  • Wash dirty clothes in hot, soapy water for at least 60 minutes and dry on a high temperature. If clothes are clean dry on a high temp for at least ten minutes.

 The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

  • Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

  • Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

  • Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes:

    • In Lyme disease, the rash appears within 3-30 days, usually before the onset of fever. Lyme disease rash is the first sign of infection and is usually a circular rash called erythema migrans or EM. This occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons and begins at the site of a tick bite. It may be warm, but is not usually painful. Some patients develop additional EM lesions in other areas of the body several days later.

    • The (STARI) rash is nearly identical to that of Lyme disease, with a red, expanding “bulls eye” lesion that develops around the site of a lone star tick bite. STARI has not been linked to any arthritic or neurologic symptoms.

    • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) varies greatly from person to person in appearance, location, and time of onset of symptoms. About 10% of people with RMSF never get a rash. If they do, the rash begins 2-5 days after the onset of fever as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots (macules) on the wrists, forearms, and ankles and spreads to the trunk. It also occasionally occurs on  the palms and soles. The red to purple, spotted (petechial) rash of RMSF is usually not seen until six days or more after onset of symptoms. It occurs in 35-60% of patients with the infection.

    • The most common form of tularemia results in a skin ulcer at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer includes swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.

    • In about 30% of patients (and nearly 60% of children), ehrlichiosis  causes a rash. The rash ranges from macular to maculopapular to petechial, and may appear after fever occures.

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Tick paralysis is a rare disease thought to be caused by a toxin in tick saliva. The symptoms include acute, ascending, flaccid paralysis that is often confused with other neurologic disorders or diseases (e.g., Guillain-Barré syndrome or botulism). Within 24 hours of removing the tick, the paralysis typically subsides.

Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors. They also can sense body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. Ticks choose a site by identifying well-used paths; they rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs and wait to ambush a host. Ticks can’t fly or jump but wait for a chance to latch on in a position known as “questing”.

Ticks come in a variety of sizes. Photo credit: Washington State Dept. of Health.

While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.

How ticks spread disease

Ticks transmit pathogens that cause disease through the process of feeding in the following ways.

1. Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface.

2. The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.

3. Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person can’t feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.

4. A tick will suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a bloodborne infection, the tick will ingest the pathogens with the blood.

5. Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host animal in this way.

6. After feeding, most ticks will drop off and prepare for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit an acquired disease to the new host.

Ticks are a cause for true concern when enjoying the outdoors so take the necessary precautions and stay safe while you are in the wild!



Check out this fast and easy way to remove ticks!

Great Smoky Mountains Solar Eclipse Road Closure Update

Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to see a solar eclipse in America’s favorite national park. Photo credit – NASA

Great Smoky Mountains solar eclipse road closure update. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are reminding visitors that Clingmans Dome Road will be closed to all access beginning at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 through the evening of Monday, August 21 following the event. No overnight parking will be allowed at Clingmans Dome Parking Area or pull-offs, parking areas, and trailheads along the road during this time period. The road will be closed to all motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

During the closure, all trails, campsites and shelters in the backcountry will remain open, but backpackers should carefully consider the road closure when planning their itineraries. All vehicles must be clear of Clingmans Dome Road by 11:00 p.m. Saturday, August 19. An interactive map is available on the park website at “map” where backcountry users can view which backcountry campsites are within the path of totality.

Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingmans Dome is the perfect spot to view the eclipse!

Clingmans Dome Road is the only park road closed for the solar eclipse event, but park visitors should be prepared for high volume traffic across all park roads on Monday, August 21. Vehicles cannot stop in the roadway and must be parked in designated parking areas. If roads become congested or cause a safety concern, rangers may temporarily close them to additional inbound traffic until after the eclipse to reduce traffic congestion and allow access for emergency response. Visitors should expect temporary road closures throughout the day.

While the western half of the park lies within the path of totality, there are limited roads and parking areas available for travel. The risk of traffic jams and road closures is likely to increase throughout the morning of August 21. Managers suggest that visitors plan ahead to find the right eclipse experience for their situation. Many communities outside of the national park are hosting special events to observe and celebrate the celestial phenomena and those locales may be a great alternative for locals or travelers not wanting to risk traffic congestion in the park. Visit the park website for more information at www.nps.gov.

For more information about the Great Smoky Mountains Solar Eclipse check out our recent blog “Eclipse.”

Grainger County Tomato Festival 2017

Get your veg on at the Grainger County Tomato Festival 2017!

Grainger County Tomato Festival 2017 at 7480 Rutledge Pike, Rutledge, TN is scheduled for Friday July 28 through Sunday July 30, 2017. The festival began in 1992, promotes the delicious and world famous Grainger County Tomatoes, local agricultural goodies, and also spotlights many area artists, craftsmen, musicians, dancers, authors and more. The venue has evolved to include many special events and is considered to be one of the largest FREE festivals in East Tennessee! Parade magazine rated it as one of the top ten festivals in the USA. The good times are always the last weekend in July so mark your calendars for this year and next.

So many delicious vegetables and so little time!

This is a family friendly event and attendees are reminded that no smoking or alcohol is allowed on the grounds. It is usually pretty warm this time of year, so dress appropriately. Watering stations and mist tents will be available to keep you and your furry friends cool at this pet friendly event.

Be sure and come hungry to the Tomato Fest. There are so many treats that choosing which to sample may prove daunting. HeySmokies loves the home made ice cream, and pinto beans and cornbread but no visit to the Grainger County Tomato Festival would be complete without a big serving of fried green tomatoes, our personal favorite. Don’t forget to take home a basket of red (or green, if you prefer) delicious tomatoes.

Catch the live entertainment on the main stage beginning Saturday morning:

9:00 The Mason Dixon Boys

10:15  Mary Kutter

11:30  Sarah Helper

1:00   Snake Holler

3:30 N2O

4:00 The Mc Kameys with opening band Tribute Quartet

5:00 Reggie Coleman

The Charlie Daniels Band takes the stage Saturday night!

7:00  The world famous Charlie Daniels Band performs on the Rutledge Middle School football field.

Sunday July 30th

12:00 Keith Lambert

1:15 Homer Hart

2:30 Brandon Fulson

3:45 Shelby Duke

Choose a side and prepare for battle at the World Famous Tomato Wars! Participants can grab “ammo” from bushels and bushels of tomatoes, take aim and win the day! The wars usually begin at 10:00 a.m Saturday and Sunday but times are yet to be announced so stay tuned to HeySmokies.com for the latest information.

Insider tip: If you participate in the tomato wars bring a fresh change of clothes!

 

 

Carolina Jessamine: Vine of the South

Carlonia Jessamine is a lovely addition to any landscape. Photo credit – Garden of Tomorrow.

Carolina Jessamine: Vine of the South. Carolina Jessamine or the Vine of the South is commonly found in the Smoky Mountain region and is a great plant for the local landscape.                            

What is it?  Seen spilling over fences and arbors and trailing along woodland margins, the Carolina jessamine, state flower of South Carolina, may justifiably be called the vine of the South, for it is the most prominent ornamental vining plant cultivated in the Southeast that is also a native plant. It brightens gardens and landscapes with its intensely yellow trumpet-shaped flowers from late spring through the summer.  More widespread than its Asian transplant rivals, wisteria and clematis, it flourishes southward from Virginia to Florida and westward to east Texas, loving this region’s summer heat and humidity as well as its mild winters.  It is known by a variety of names—Carolina jasmine, evening trumpet flower, and woodbine—but the scientific name, gelsemium sempervirens, captures one of its most distinguishing and useful features:  its leaves are evergreen (i.e. sempervirens).  The gelsemium designation, however, indicates much less favorable trait:  the plant is toxic to human beings.

Where does it grow?  This plant is hardy in USDA zones 7-9 in the United States, but its range extends well into Central America.  It consists of strong twining bronze-colored stems that can reach upward or outward 20 feet or more with a spread of up to 8 feet.  Its deep green leaves are thin, lustrous, spear-shaped, and evergreen, although both the leaves and stems darken in color during the winter.  In the late spring the vine produces medium-sized trumpet –shaped flowers, rather like those of Asiatic lilies, which are intensely yellow and very fragrant.  Blooming continues until mid-summer when the plant begins to conserve energy to survive the drier, hotter months.  (Growers have also produced white, crimson, and pink flowered varieties.)  The plant’s strong deep root system adapts well to the heavy Southern clay soil, allowing the plant to tolerate the region’s hot, dry summers.  It also tolerates some shade but prefers full sun, except along the roots.

What is it used for?  Carolina jessamine is typically used as a climbing vine to decorate trellises, arbors, fences, and walls, but can serve as a hedge as well if supported.  Where no vertical support is available, it can also become an aggressive groundcover on sunny hillsides.  For gardeners who wish to feature native or historical plants, the Carolina jessamine is the perfect choice for a vertical highlight just as it has been in Southern gardens since the colonial period.

How to cultivate it.  Carolina jessamine can be grown readily from stem cuttings or seeds taken from existing plants.  Once the yellow flowers are spent, seed pods form in their place and gradually open to expose the seeds.  The pods can then be clipped from the vine and air-dried for several days to ensure the moisture is gone before storage.  (For storage, a small pouch made of aluminum foil works well. Once the seeds are enclosed, the pouch can then be placed in a plastic zip bag, the bag then labelled and stored.)  In late February the seeds can be started indoors in peat pots kept is a sunny spot and frequently watered before transplanting to the garden once the soil is thoroughly warmed, typically in May.  Care should be taken to shade and mulch the roots, however, as jessamine, like clematis, prefers its roots to be relatively cool.  Finally, the plant can be pruned throughout the growing season in order to improve its appearance and maintain its conformance to arbors, trellises, and pergolas.

Toxicity:  ALL PARTS OF CAROLINA JESSAMINE ARE TOXIC TO HUMAN BEINGS because it contains a substance known as gelsemine—a complex alkaloid related to strychnine.  The sap can cause minor skin irritation, so gardeners working with this plant should always wear gloves and long sleeves.  More importantly, children can easily mistake jessamine’s trumpet-like flowers for honeysuckle and poison themselves by ingesting the flowers or nectar.  This circumstance requires immediate medical care.  Butterflies and hummingbirds, however, are readily attracted to the plant and suffer no harm.

Unfortunately, the Carolina Jessamine’s toxicity is not limited to human beings.  It also appears to be toxic for the non-native honeybee, while not so for the bumblebee and other native osmia bees, which have learned to avoid it.  Honeybees ingesting the vine’s alkaloid nectar become disoriented and eventually die.  While Carolina jessamine is not a contributor to honeybee colony collapse, it is not a good ideal to locate bee hives near to it.

HeySmokies would like to welcome our new contributing writer Carl Parsons. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.

July 4, 2017 Free Fishing Day In North Carolina!

Catch and release your inner angler!

July 4, 2017 Free Fishing Day In North Carolina! This coming Tuesday will be free fishing day throughout North Carolina. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. till 12:59 p.m. there will be no fishing license or additional trout privilege license required in any public body of water. Any age may fish the public waters for free on July 4 but remember all other fishing regulations do apply.

The state of North Carolina does it’s part to make this day memorable by stocking many public water ways. Cold mountain streams are stocked with brown, rainbow and brook trout as well as walleye and muskellunge. Warmer waters are stocked with American shad, catfish, striped bass, sunfish and large

Grab your pole and meet HeySmokies at the fishing hole!

mouth bass. To give you a fighting chance the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission provides an interactive map on their website to show where to get your “Fish On!”

This special day of patriotism and fishing should be experienced by everyone and is great for a family outing, Remember that kids 15 years old and younger may fish year round in North Carolina with no fishing license but don’t get caught with a full string if you are 16 and up or there will be more than fish in the frying pan! The officials kinda frown on that! Have fun everyone and we hope you land a whopper! If you can’t make it to the lake be sure and discover our other 4th of July suggestions at HeySmokies 4th of July Fun!