Things to look out for while vacationing on the Vineyard

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

Martha’s Vineyard should be on everyone’s bucket list as it is a breathtaking place worth visiting, however there are some things you should look out for while on the island. If you love nature and walking around discovering its beauty, you are bound to encounter poison ivy, ticks, and skunks on the vineyard. Don’t worry we have researched all three and will give you detailed information on what to look out for, what are the symptoms and how keep safe. Let’s dive in!

1. Ticks

There are three types of ticks on Martha’s Vineyard- dog ticks, deer ticks and lone star ticks. Deer ticks are larger in size, while a lone star tick has a white dot or “lone star” on their back. Dog ticks and lone star ticks are not as commonly found on the island as deer ticks, and they aren’t as likely to cause health issues.

The most common type of ticks found across the vineyard are deer ticks, and those are the ones you should look out for. Depending if they are engorged or not, they have a different size. The engorged tick is the size of a sesame seed, while a non-engorged deer tick is about the size of a pencil dot. Deer ticks are the most dangerous, and if you find an embedded deer tick, the best course of action is to contact a doctor.

The most common symptoms of tick-relates illnesses are fevers or chills, a rash, aches and pains such as headaches, and muscle aches, while some may experience joint pain as well. However, don’t be immediately alarmed if you see a tick bite, as not every tick carries a disease. If you want to be on the safe side, you can take the tick out, put it in a plastic bag and send it to be tested for pathogens.

If you walk around the trails on the Vineyard you can protect yourself by spraying permethrin on your clothes, which is an insecticide used to tick-proof clothing, and also make sure you check yourselves when you come back home.

2. Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy can be found almost anywhere in the United States, so it is no wonder that it also exists everywhere on our beautiful island, from dry grassland to swamps. The best way to avoid it, is to be familiar with how it looks. Poison ivy is distinct as it always has three leaves, one in the center and one on each side. The leaves are green and shiny with smooth or slightly notched edges. The oil from the poison ivy is responsible for the rashes, however it doesn’t necessarily mean you came in touch with it directly, it can be from touching your clothes which were in contact with the oil or inhaling smoke from burning poison ivy. But if you can avoid the oil, you will avoid any rash.

If you do get in contact with the oil you should look out for signs and symptoms of poison ivy which include redness, itching, swelling, blisters or difficulty breathing, in case you inhaled smoke from poison ivy.

The rash usually develops 12 to 48 hours after exposure and it can last a couple of weeks.

Most cases of poison ivy don’t need to be treated by a doctor, so if you do come in contact with the oil, the first step of treatment should be to immediately wash any areas on your skin that may have touched the plant - this can help in lessening the severity of your reaction. Also make sure to wash you clothes as well, because any further contact with the oil can cause new rashes. Some other home treatments include applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream for a couple of days, soaking the areas where you have a rash in a cool water bath mixed with about half a cup of baking soda, or if the itching is unbearable you can take a antihistamine that might help you sleep better.

Even though most cases of poison ivy can be cleared with the abovementioned methods, if you develop any of the following symptoms be sure to go the emergency room: shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, swelling where the rash is, if the rash is on your face and genitals, or if the rash covers a large area of your body.

3. Skunks

There are several legends about how skunks came to exist on the island, and no matter which one is true, the matter of the fact is there are here, and they are roaming around freely. You can find them in people’s trash, you can find them on the road, you can see them even on Main Street. Skunks are black with a white tail, and while they are naturally docile animals when they feel threatened by a person or an animal, they spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent as a defensive weapon. So, if you come across a skunk, be calm and let them be, and you will avoid any spraying.

If you are unlucky and get sprayed here are a couple of things you can do to get rid of that horrible smell. First, you should shower immediately with deodorizing soap, and wash your hair using lots of shampoo. As an extra step you can soak in a baking soda bath for about 20 minutes. Four cups of baking soda into hot water should do the trick. If your pet gets sprayed, don’t let them inside the house to run freely, as the smell can linger for days or even weeks. You should create a homemade mixture of one quart three percent hydrogen peroxide, one quarter of a cup of baking soda, and one teaspoon of grease-cutting dish detergent, which you should lather into your pet’s fur, let it sit for a maximum of 5 minutes and then wash with their pet shampoo. You can repeat this for as long as it takes to get rid of the smell.

When it comes to your clothes, your best bet would be to throw them out. However, if they happen to be your favorite pair of pants, and you can’t get yourself to discard them, you should soak them in baking soda, and after that wash them on high temperature with laundry detergent. Make sure to air dry the clothes after washing! Do not dry them in a drying machine as the smell can potentially linger in there.

Photo credits: @meaghan_patricia


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