Ticks off! Solar panels on!

Beware of ticks in brushy areas of Bidwell Park; and, what the heck is going on in New Jersey?



Ticks in the park
Last week, I warned about rattlesnakes in Bidwell Park; this week, we’re talking ticks. May means warmer weather, which means that ticks—those pesky bugs that like to attach themselves to people’s and animals’ skin and suck their blood, for days, if they’re not removed—are becoming active in the grassy and wooded areas of the park, according to a recent press release from the city of Chico’s Parks, Open Spaces, Greenways and Preserves Division.

May is also, fittingly, National Lyme Disease Awareness Month: The Western black-legged tick (or “deer tick”), which inhabits Bidwell Park, is the main culprit in the spread of Lyme disease in the Western United States. According to the California Department of Public Health, an average of 5 to 15 percent of black-legged ticks in California are carrying the Lyme bacterium.

Lyme disease makes its initial appearance as a red, expanding “bullseye” rash at the site of the bite three to 30 days after being bitten by an infected tick. Untreated, the disease can lead to various acute neurological problems, such as facial palsy and meningitis.

Staying on established park trails and roads will help reduce chances of being bitten by a tick; protective clothing and use of tick repellant is also advised. After leaving a possible tick-infested area, check yourself and any pets that were with you for ticks daily for up to three days. If you find one, remove it with tweezers by grasping and pulling it out firmly without twisting it. Put the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it, then disinfect the bite-wound.

The Butte County Health Department can test for the presence of the Lyme bacterium in a tick for a relatively low fee.

For more information, call 896-7800.

What’s going on over there in N.J.?

Folks from the Garden State are up in arms about the proliferation of solar panels in their neighborhoods, put there by the Public Service Electric and Gas Co.

According to a recent New York Times article, PSE&G is “mounting 200,000 individual panels in neighborhoods throughout its service area, covering nearly three-quarters of the state” of New Jersey, part of a state mandate that requires power companies to obtain 23 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by the year 2021.

“I hate them. It’s just an eyesore,” one man was quoted as saying about a row of the 2 1/2-by-5-foot solar panels attached to power poles across the street from his house.

They are “[l]ike a massive Christo project but without the advance publicity,” quipped the Times of the ambitious project, adding that “what might have been a point of pride in a state better known as the nation’s leader in toxic Superfund sites has instead caused suburban aesthetic unrest.”

“When it’s up close,” said another New Jerseyan, “the [solar] panel takes on a life of its own.”

USPS goes green
The U.S. Postal Service recently came out with its new Go Green stamps. Each stamp (in a sheet of 16 different “Forever” stamps that are good for whatever the current going first-class-letter rate is) features a bit of eco-friendly advice, such as “Compost,” “Ride a bike,” “Plant trees” and “Fix water leaks.” www.usps.com/green