A Q&A with “Tick Man Dan” Dan Wolfe: Avid Outdoorsman and TickEase Removal Tool Pioneer
by Derek Benoit June 30th, 2021
Please note: at the time of this writing, I do NOT have a financial relationship with either TickEase or any of its distributors.
What was the inspiration for the development of the TickEase product?
I have been deer hunting in Massachusetts for more than 30 years. In the late nineties, I noticed that the tick populations were growing rapidly and more and more people were getting tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease. At the time, I was a single dad with 2 boys and 2 dogs. Ticks were literally everywhere, and to date, I estimate being bitten by more than 200 deer ticks.
Fearing for the health of my kids and pets, I began to research best prevention methods. I discovered that prompt and proper removal played an import role in minimizing one’s exposure to nasty infectious agents transmitted by ticks. All the experts recommended using fine tipped tweezers for safe removal, but I couldn’t find a reasonably priced “tick specific” device. I decided to invent one myself.
Where does TickEase fall in the idea of a tick management plan?
In order to reduce your chances of getting bitten by a tick and subsequent potential infection, one needs to understand that there are many components or tools that need to utilized in conjunction with each other. More is better in this case, and using one piece of the puzzle is not going to be optimal.
There are many things you can do to prevent the bite, but if a tick breeches your initial defenses (and they will), safe removal can be critical. Some can people actually increase their exposure by incorrectly removing a feeding tick. Remember, simple is better and a non-complicated approach is the best – what could easier than grasping the tick close to the skin and slowly lifting straight up? Twisting, agitating, freezing, applying any substance or heating the tick is completely un-necessary. Household tweezers with flat tips were designed to remove hair not ticks. Using them can cause you to tear, rupture or pop the tick which is very bad.
What other steps should outdoorsmen and women take to prevent tick bites?
Again, there are a bunch of components in one’s tick tool box. People must utilize the following:
- Skin protection
- Clothing prevention
- Understanding general tick behavior and habitat
- What to do after potential exposure
- What to do if a biting tick is discovered
- Identification of species and stage of life
- Possible medical interventions
Where on our bodies should we be looking for ticks after potential exposure?
Check out this helpful video for checking yourselves, your kids and your pets:
Do you have a favorite brand of repellent for application to the skin?
Most recommend any repellent containing at least 20% deet. I do not have a problem with applying deet based products for the skin, but in my opinion, these will not be very effective against slow moving, slow breathing ticks. These products will work great against mosquitoes and fast moving biting flies. There are also organic products like Ranger Ready and Ticks N All that seem to be very popular. My thinking is these won’t hurt you.
My preference by far is wearing clothing treated with Permethrin. This is to be applied to clothing only and must not be used until completely dry. It is an acaracide which kills ticks that come in direct contact with it even for a short period of time. InsectShield.com provides pre-treated apparel that works really well.
Is there any particular type of habitat that is riskier than others for tick exposure?
Ticks are found everywhere around the globe with the exception of Antarctica. In the US, ticks are mostly concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest. These areas have hot temperatures in the summer and cold temps in the Winter. Ticks thrive in moist regions and love humid climates. Also, ticks can be found in greater numbers where hosts like deer, mice, people and other animals also thrive. They are commonly found in the moist leaf litter in wooded or brushy areas. When it’s time to feed, they will venture up on blades of long grasses or shrubs and start their questing or hunting behaviors.
What weather conditions are riskiest for tick exposure?
Prolonged periods of moist cool weather seems to be ideal for ticks. For example, you will find more ticks in Spring in Pennsylvania than summer in Arizona. Also, ticks become inactive when temperatures are below freezing. However, even after a prolonged period of really cold weather, ticks come to life and search for victims when it gets warmer.
How much time do we actually have between a tick getting onto our skin and when it begins biting and feeding?
Ticks tend to wander around for some time before biting. I have had ticks bite as soon as 3 hours and as long as the next day. Sometimes they will hang out in clothing for a while before biting. They seem to search for those warm moist body parts before settling in for a meal.
TickEase Partner Organizations
Dan Wolfe and TickEase partner with the following organizations to promote tick research and prevention:
University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center
Laboratory of Medical Zoology at the University of Massachusetts Amhurst