Handling Poison Ivy
Inside the Outdoors, May 13,
2016

Recently I was listening to a conversation whereby a person was asked to pull a plant from the ground with his bare hands. The party doing the ejection told the fellow that he wouldn’t do so because of his suspicion that what he suspected may cause him a rash all over his body. “That’s not a poisonous plant,” the gent stated, “so you have no worries. Go for it.” So the man did, and guess what. His presumption was correct. He got poison ivy all over his hands that spread to the rest of his person.

In this time of spring when all kinds of plants are coming up in our gardens, or fishers may be out along the creeks, one may not be thinking about what may be in his grips or brush against him or herself only because one has one thing in mind – to rid the weeds from the garden or catch the fish from the creek.

From my own experience, it has happened to me both ways. Eliminating unwanted growths from my garden and/or walking down to Loyalhanna Creek in Legion Keener Park, both places, I came in contact with the plant. I need not explain what happened after that. It sure was unpleasant.

For those who may not be familiar, one may characterize this plant as a climbing shrub which is a species of sumac with three broadly, variously notched, sinuate or cut-lobed leaflets and whitish berries.

According to Michael Potter, horticulture columnist for the Houston News, “Poison ivy contains oil called urushiol that is part of the sap and is located in every part of the plant. Also, the oil can remain active for a long period of time even after the plant is dead. It has been documented that the oils can be active for a long period of time even after the plant is dead. It has been stated that the oils can be active for five or more years. So needless to say, all parts of the plant are toxic and capable of causing skin irritation for long periods of time.”

Anyone who has contacted this has realized how problematic is and that it does not have touch appeal.

Potter pointed out that one can also come in contact with the oil by mowing one’s grass, trimming or even when one removes his shoes, gloves or clothes. One can’t be too careful.

The expert stated, “If you suspect poison ivy is located in your landscape, wear the appropriate clothing or protective gear prior to tackling the yard chores. It is also possible for pet to transfer the oil to you if they have come in contact with poison ivy, thoroughly scrub several times with a heavy-duty soap during the first half-hour after initial contact. In addition, scrubbing your hands with rubbing alcohol will help remove the sap from your hand and help to avoid spreading the irritating oil. Exposed clothing should be thoroughly washed in hot water before it is worn again and make sure you do so separate from other clothing. If your pets have been playing amongst the poison ivy, a warm bath with pet shampoo will help remove the oil.”

If one wishes to rid the plants from one’s property, Potter suggests using rubber gloves or pliers.

Here’s a trick he recommends. “If you use pliers, while holding the tool, put a strong plastic bag such as a bread bag or trash bag over the pliers, arm and hand. Be careful not to puncture the bag. Once settled and ready to go, uproot the plant by gripping it with the pliers. Then, peel the bag off over your arm, hand and then pliers. The plucked plant will be secured inside the bag and can be thrown away.”

“In addition,” he concluded, “there will be no unintended contact with the sap on the plier or yourself.”

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An avid angler questioned me recently concerning where he could catch perch in the area. From Mt. Pleasant, he was unfamiliar with the lakes, and Loyalhanna Creek. He told me then of his experiences in the rivers.

I told him I caught a 14 incher in the Loyalhanna Creek, and also recommended the Conemaugh River where one fellow told me he caught a 13 and one-half inch such species there, but didn’t relinquish as to what bait was used.

Most anglers of the area know Lake Erie is loaded with yellow perch.

Just recently, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) announced that the 2016 creel limit would remain at 30 per day.

“Since 1996, the average harvest of yellow perch by Pennsylvania’s combined recreational (139,000 lbs.) and commercial fisheries (11,000 lbs.) has been 150,000 pounds,” the PFBC stated.


- Paul J. Volkmann
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