There are different types of ticks in every corner of the country. Most ticks are dangerous, but completely avoidable. Follow these simple steps to keep you and your pets safe when hiking in tick country.
What is a tick?
What is a tick? It’s a basic question that many people who spend time in the outdoors surprisingly can’t answer. Yes, they are a bug. More specifically, they are an arachnid. They belong to the same biological class as spiders, scorpions and mites. They are creepy little buggers but do play a role in a healthy ecosystem. They are an incredibly valuable food source for birds, reptiles and other animals. They are also a disease vector. Several tick diseases can be spread to humans and your pets and may be fatal if left untreated. There are literally hundreds of species but there are seven different types of ticks that you should know if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
Avoiding a tick bite
Preventing tick bites is not 100% guaranteed, but you can certainly increase your odds of success with these steps:
1) Hike in the middle of the trail and try to avoid brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
2) Limit the amount of exposed skin, by wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
3) Make sure to tuck your shirt in to cover your torso and tuck your pant legs into your socks. (You can even use a bit of duct tape to keep you pants secure).
4) Wear bright colors - it makes it much easier to spot ticks!
5) Don’t forget to put on bug spray. The Center for Disease Control recommends one that contains “20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection.”
6) The CDC also recommends “using products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.” Permethrin is an insecticide.
7) Apply a tick product to your pups! We use Frontline and have no complaints.
8) Brad Paisley has a song that says “I want to check you for ticks.” Seriously, check yourself and others for ticks! Look for little nymphs as well, they tend to spread disease easier than adults, but are tiny. Pull out a penny and look at Lincoln's nose, that’s about the size. Do a check of yourself, pets and gear every few hours. Make sure to take a shower when you get home and check yourself well, especially your groin, underarms and other areas hard to check while you are on the trail.
9) If you are hiking and you find a tick attached to you or your dog. Don’t freak out. Follow the proper steps for how to remove a tick.