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The Nastys

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There are a few things that you want to take precautions to avoid in Bluff Country!

Tap pictures to enlarge. 

Wild Parsnip AKA Cow Parsnip - BAD

Wild Parsnip AKA Cow Parsnip – BAD

Wild Parsnip – On wet or sweaty skin, on some people, this will not only cause painful blistering, but it may actually discolor your skin in brown splotches for up to 20 years! Often found on roadsides. Wear pants and long sleeves, shoes and socks and gloves. And/or bring loppers to cut them down. Note: Do not touch eyes if you get this on your hands! Rinse immediately and repeatedly with cool water if you do.


Watch out! Burning Nettle!

Watch out! Burning Nettle!

Burning Nettle – Also called stinging nettle or itchy weeds. Nearly all people will feel an intense itching if encountered. Wash with water immediately. I have found Calmine lotion and diaper rash ointment to be effective in soothing the itch. Better just to avoid them. Note: Do not rub eyes with the hand that may have touched them. You’ll regret it if you do!


Swamp Nettle

Swamp Nettle

Swamp Nettle – Burning nettle is usually in sunny areas; swamp nettle burns just as bad, but it is on the edges of woods and in wet areas.

Jewel Weed, note large stem.

Jewel Weed, note large stem.

When you find swamp nettle you will also often find Jewel Weed. Jewel Weed is the antidote to both swamp nettle and burning nettle. Break the watery stem of the Jewel Weed and apply sap lavishly to the stinging areas. It will mitigate the stinging. 🙂




Jack-in-the-Pulpit is a “flower” that grows in the same area as these two, has three leaves, and is NOT harmful!



Poison Ivy young.

Poison Ivy young.

Poison Ivy – Most people are allergic to poison ivy. Very painful if you

Reddish Poison Ivy

Reddish Poison Ivy

get into it. Just remember, “Leaves of 3, leave it be.”






Poison Oak - note leaves of three again.

Poison Oak – note leaves of three again.

Poison Oak – A nasty, but not too prevalent.


Common Wood Tick

Common Wood Tick

Wood Tick and Its Cousin the Deer Tick –

Maple Springs

Deer Tick - tiny

Deer Tick – tiny

Campground near the entrance of Forestville sells tick keys for easy removal. GET THE HEAD! Personally, I have found that if I wash my hair and body in a generic dandruff shampoo, they don’t embed as quickly. So you can feel them crawling around and just pick them off and drown them in the toilet. Or dab with vaseline or Vick’s Vaporub to smother them and they usually withdraw the head and you can pick them off. Or heat a nail tip with a match, put the tip on the tick and they usually pull out and you can dispose of them. But those deer ticks are really small, so that is hard to do.

Crushed Snapping Turtle.

Crushed Snapping Turtle.

Snapping Turtles – Just don’t go near it, or tease it, or attempt to pick it up! However, if you do get

One species of snapper. Just don't mess with turtles.

One species of snapper. Just don’t mess with turtles.

bit the only way they will release is to be turned upside down–learned that one the hard way, almost lost my index finger!

“Snappers” as we call them here, have ridges on their backs and tails, huge claws, and a razor sharp biting beak. They are very fast and can reach their head around almost back to their tail. They are often submerged on the edge of a creek and can appear to be a rock–do NOT step on it! About the only time they leave the creeks are to lay their eggs.


Diamond Back Rattler - that is what we have here.

Diamond Back Rattler – that is what we have here.

Rattlesnakes – If you hear a warning rattle, just back away slowly. They are now an endangered species, so you can’t kill them legally. If bit, tie a tourniquet and seek immediate medical attention. Rattlesnakes will leave if they know you are around. A dog will usually keep them away (And you wonder why I take my collie with me?) or make some noise or wear some “bear bells” on your shoelaces.


State Bird Mosquito

State Bird

Mosquitoes (The Minnesota State Bird) – Any insect repellant with Deet, or most of the hardware stores around here sell Watkins white vanilla for effective organic insect repellant. A dryer sheet in your pocket helps a lot! Or try Avon Skin-So-Soft hand lotion – you smell good and it keeps the skeeters away. Use Vick’s Vaporub on the bites.


Buffalo Gnat Uncommon but Nasty

Buffalo Gnat
Uncommon but Nasty

Buffalo Gnats – Vanilla is about the only thing I have found that keeps them off you. Dryer sheets in your pocket help. They are now selling a horse linament called Absorbine in small bottles for humans to use to keep biting gnats away, and it works!


Deer Fly Common and a Nuisance

Deer Fly
Common and a Nuisance

Deer Flies – Good luck! Anything with Deet will help! Several dryer sheets tied around your neck and in your pockets may help. Try Avon Skin-So-Soft and Absorbine. And yes, they do draw blood!


Brown Recluse Spider from Wiki

Brown Recluse Spider from Wiki

The Brown Recluse Spider – Yes, they have made their way into Minnesota. They are poisonous. Seek immediate attention if bit. Look for the “fiddle” on the back.


Beef Bull

Beef Bull

Long Horn Bull

Long Horn Bull

Bulls – Do NOT go into a pasture without the farmer’s permission! Think twice if you are hunting along a fenceline with beef cows. Dairy cows are usually artificially inseminated. Beef cows are usually turned out with a bull. Bulls are dangerous and easily aroused. Many farmers are covering their beef cows with Longhorn Bulls to get a leaner and more sustainable animal (easykeepers). Longhorns are very easily annoyed and have very long horns. They will even attack vehicles! Bulls will go through a fence with no problem, it won’t even phase them. So, heads up and back slowly away. Point of interest, playing dead won’t help in a bull attack. They roll their victims and paw them. However, if he hasn’t charged yet, it might help to s-l-o-w-l-y drop to the ground and wait for him to leave.


I think that about covered most of the perils you may encounter.

The reality is that you are likely to only encounter insects, burning nettle, and wild parsnip.

But I thought I would throw the others in because you might be city folk.





2 Responses to The Nastys

  1. Steve Ridgway

    Hi, the rattlesnake on the nasties page is actually a timber rattlesnake,and the brown recluse is a wolf spider.

    Bev – Thanks Steve! I went for the Timber Rattlesnake because that is what we have here. 🙂 I just did a Wiki search for the Brown Recluse Spider replace the other image with their image!
    Thanks for the help!

  2. Jane

    Brown recuse bites are horrible. I got bit by one when I was young, and spent 8 weeks in Methodist hospital. I almost died. Beware where you put your hands when camping or hiking and kick woodpiles before getting wood to scare out spiders nesting in the piles.

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