Last week's column about ticks drew a quick response from many readers, including a great tip about a simple, inexpensive tool to remove engorged ticks.
"I'm an ER doc in rural Pennsylvania and have removed hundreds of attached ticks," said Dr. Rod Groomes, director of the emergency department at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital in Kittanning for 27 years. "In the old days we injected the area with local anesthetic and dug out the mouth parts with a needle. A few years ago, I discovered a nifty little tool called a Tick Twister. It's shaped like a crowbar. You ease the Tick Twister under the tick and twirl it around three or four times, and the tick lets go. We treat hundreds of attached ticks every year, and I've never seen the Twister fail."
Tiny ticks can usually be removed with tweezers, he said, but the Tick Twister is much more effective for larger engorged ticks. The hospital is seeing about 10 cases of Lyme disease each week.
Reader Ruth Bechtie-Pierce also recommended the Tick Twister.
"My husband and our dogs have both been bothered with ticks this year," she said. "We found the Tick Twister at PetSmart. I used it to remove a tick on my husband's back, and it came out easily and completely."
Tick Twisters are available at drugstores and online at www.ticktwister.com.
• On another topic, Moon resident Beryl Johnson wrote in about an intra-species dispute.
"A pair of red-tailed hawks built a nest in a pine tree in our yard this spring," she said. "One day about two weeks ago we saw two blue jays harass the hawks at the nest. Since that episode, we have seen very little of the hawks. Could they have been frightened away by the blue jays? What are your thoughts?"
The blue jays almost certainly did not cause the hawks to abandon the nest. A more likely explanation is that a great horned owl or crow visited the nest while it was unattended and helped itself to the nest's contents.
Biologist, author and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 9-11 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling), and noon-2 p.m. Sundays on 1360 WMNY-AM (Pittsburgh). He can be reached at http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com, and 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.