Planning on hiking in the woods or gearing up for your annual summer camping trip? Just make sure ticks aren’t hitching a ride back home with you in your sleeping bag.
These parasitic pests thrive in moist, humid environments, particularly in the woods or grasslands, so you’ll want to be especially careful during the summer months when populations are at their peak.
Check out our tips for effective inspection and removal methods, and keep your summer fun and safe.
Sure, checking for ticks is probably not at the top of your “summer fun” itinerary, but it’s definitely worth your while. Ticks that go undetected are more than a nuisance; they can pose serious health risks. At best, tick bites can lead to itching or burning, but severe allergic reactions can include rash, swelling, shortness of breath, or even paralysis.
Ticks are also responsible for transmitting a variety of illnesses, including Lyme Disease, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, and rickettsiosis, to name a few.
So make tick inspection a priority if you’re out in the woods this summer. It may not be fun, but it certainly beats a doctor visit.
The key to preventing the health problems caused by ticks is early detection. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have never come across a tick and aren’t aware of what they look like, they are typically brown to reddish brown in color, and have a small, spider-like appearance.
Check for ticks with 2 simple steps:
- Clothing check – Ticks often attach themselves directly to your person, so check your clothing before heading back home.
- Body check – Once home, conduct a more thorough body check. Focus specifically on body crevices, including the underarms, behind the knees, inside the belly button, in or around the ears, and the hairline. If possible, take a shower to ensure you’re fully clean and tick-free.
First off, never attempt to remove ticks with your bare hands, as this can aggravate them and they may bite. The best removal method is to use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grab them around their mouth (the part that can get stuck in your skin). Avoid squeezing them around the belly, as this can release infected fluid from the tick and transmit it to you.
If you don’t have tweezers handy, the next best thing is to put on a pair of gloves before removing the tick. Anything is better than making direct contact.
To remove any ticks in your hair, comb carefully with a fine-tooth comb, or have someone inspect your scalp for you.
If you’re concerned about removing them by hand at all, or you just want to take extra precaution, throw your clothes in the drier on high heat or just hang them in the sun, and the high heat will kill them off.
The best way to avoid the harmful affects of ticks is to prevent them in the first place.
Prevention methods include:
- Avoiding tick hot-spots – When hiking, try to stay in the middle of the hiking path and avoid brushing up against plant life as much as possible
- Treating gear with permethrin – Permethrin is a chemical that can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear from ticks, and actually retains its protective qualities for several washings
- Spraying tick repellent – Repellents containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) can provide several hours of tick protection
But keep in mind that nature can often be unpredictable, and there’s no tick prevention method that’s guaranteed to work 100% of the time. For serious tick infestations, get in touch for a free in-home estimate, and a professional pest technician will assess your infestation and determine the best course of action.