CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- 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.
Dr. Rod Groomes, director of the emergency department at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, in Kittanning, Pa., for 27 years, wrote, "I'm an ER doc in rural Pennsylvania, and I have removed hundreds of attached ticks. In the old days, we injected the area with local anesthetic and dug out the mouth parts with a needle.
"A few years ago," Groomes continued, "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."
In a follow-up phone interview, Groomes explained, "Tiny ticks can usually be removed with tweezers, but for larger, engorged ticks, the Tick Twister is much more effective. And right now we're seeing about 10 cases of Lyme disease each week, so anyone who spends time outdoors in this region should have a Tick Twister."
Tick Twisters are available online at www.ticktwister.com and in drugstores.
Reader Ruth Bechtie-Pierce also recommended the Tick Twister. "I wanted to let you know about the Tick Twister for removing ticks. We found it at PetSmart last year and have been using it on the dogs. I was a little nervous about using it to remove a tick on my husband's back, but it came out easily and completely."
From Mayville, N.Y., Martha Carnahan writes, "You will be interested to know we have a downy woodpecker that sips nectar from our hummingbird feeder."
It's always interesting to watch birds other than hummingbirds sip nectar from a feeder, but it's relatively common. More than 50 species of birds besides hummingbirds are known to sip nectar. Orioles, chickadees, house finches and woodpeckers are among the backyard birds that enjoy an occasional sweet drink.