By Matt Dolkas,
Content Marketing Manager

Ticks love me.

I mean they really love me. I’m not totally sure why. It seems they’re just more attracted to me…something about my smell or something? My friends even started calling me a “tick magnet,” which they think is hilarious (I’m not laughing).

But when the going gets tough, the tough get going, right?

Well, I’m not very tough so I decided to get clever instead. Over the years I’ve developed an anti-tick strategy that would delight even those with extreme insectophobia (ticks are technically arachnids…but “insectophobia” roles off the tongue so well we had to use it). It’s taken some work, but I think I’ve perfected my techniques in tick bite prevention.

Here are my pro tips for preventing tick bites:

1. Stay home:

I’m totally kidding. Don’t let a tiny little insect deter you from enjoying the wonders of our open spaces. You can protect yourself against tick bites—you just need to know how (keep reading).

2. Worship the sun: 

Ticks like moist environments, especially the younger ones called “nymphs” (which are also the ones most likely to harbor Lyme disease). In fact, nymphs can’t survive in environments with lower than 80 percent humidity for more than eight hours. Good to know, right? When you stop for a break on your next hike, pick a nice dry spot in the sun and be sure to bring some sunscreen.

3. Stop hugging your dog so much (at least on the trail): 

If you’re a dog person and you enjoy our dog-friendly trails, you might be inviting more ticks into your life. Ticks like to hitchhike on dogs, so be sure to give Fido a good inspection when you get home from your hike and talk to your vet about the right tick treatment. Remember, ticks need to stay moist, so start by checking the moist areas of their bodies.

4. Lighten up a little (on your wardrobe): 

The younger ticks, the ones called “nymphs” I was talking about earlier, are really tiny…like really tiny! They can be as small as a poppy seed which can make them really hard to see. By wearing light-colored clothing, it will be easier for you to identify these little buggers and remove them before they can bite.

5. Tuck and cover: 

It may seem obvious, but keeping your skin covered prevents ticks from latching on. When the weather is cool enough, I’ll even take it one step further by tucking in my shirt and my pants into my socks. I know—nerd alert—but this prevents ticks from crawling underneath my clothing (and gives my wife a good laugh).

6. Change your costume: 

If possible, bring a new set of clothes to change into at the end of your hike. My wife and I always have a good chuckle changing our clothes in the trailhead parking lot. We know it’s a little awkward, but it’s the best way to prevent the ticks from entering our car and home. Check your skin for any ticks that might have snuck underneath your clothes. Then put the “soiled” clothing into a plastic bag. When you get home, put those clothes straight into the dryer—ticks can’t take the heat and it’s the best way to ensure these little buggers don’t escape into the house.

7. Better living through chemicals…? 

If you want to take things to the next level, there is an insecticide called permethrin available that is effective at preventing tick bites. I’ve never felt the need to use it as the precautions listed above have seemed like enough. Permethrin will kill ticks and has been found to be more effective than DEET-based products at preventing tick bites. If you’re wanting to take every measure available to prevent tick bites, then this is one to explore.

 

Have a tick bite? Don’t panic.

If you get a bite, don’t panic. You’ll want to carefully remove the entire thing following these simple steps. Once removed, save the tick in a plastic bag and store it in your freezer. You may want to have it tested if you develop Lyme symptoms.

The Bay Area Lyme Foundation is working to make Lyme disease easier to diagnose and cure. Their website is a terrific resource if you’re looking for more detailed information on tick bite prevention.

Enjoy the trails!

 

  • Megan McCaslin

    This is great information about ticks. Well-written and funny too. Thanks, Matt.

  • Susanna

    Ticks are not insects, but arachnids (think spiders & scorpions). They are seasonal, typically fall & spring, but through the summer in some areas. And they are carriers of several diseases besides Lyme, all serious if not treated quickly. Horses, dogs and humans are susceptible (I don’t know about cats).

  • Voice of Reason

    I saw that Aussies recommend freezing a tick with the freezing spray you use on warts. Just a thought.

  • Jen Walker

    Permethrin is very toxic to cats so if there are cats in your household do not use it!

    http://www.catvets.com/guidelines/isfm-protect-against-permethrin-poisoning-campaign

    Using a sticky tape lint roller on dogs after hiking can be helpful for lifting away those nasty little ticks before they hitchhike into your home.

  • Martin Preston

    To see them look 4 feet in front of you for little spots on the tips of grasses overhanging the trail. You’ll quickly learn to stay away from grasses overhanging the trail.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2bea39b96da11120c89bee2f23c193cf13bc0c720bfb7f095f461d6151cffda8.jpg

  • jadane

    If you wear light colored or any-colored clothes, you will get them and bring them inside, where they will wait for you. I wear shorts. That way, if one finds you, you will feel it wandering north for a more congenial place.

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