What To Do About Ticks?

Ticks: miniscule and menacing, and downright creepy.

These parasites can be found in tall grasses and leaf litter, as well as on
rocks, logs, tree trunks and firewood, and, as dog owners know, on animals. They aren’t just found in the forest but also in coastal shrub near beaches. Spring and early summer are when people are most likely to be bitten by ticks. Adults are most active early in the morning and late afternoon.

How can you avoid ticks?

Prevention is key:

  • Cover up! Tuck your hiking pants into socks, shirt into pants and wear long sleeve shirts that you can button at the wrist. 
    • Have gaiters for your hiking shoes? Use them.
    • Wear a hat! And tuck your hair in.
  • Light NOT bright clothes: Wear light-colored clothes. Ticks are less attracted to light colors and it will be easier to spot any ticks on your clothes.
  • Treat clothing, shoes and camping gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin, which remains protective through many washings. Or, buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. 
  • Avoid wooded areas, tall grasses. Hike in center of trail
  • Take a sticky tape lint brush with you on the trail. Use it periodically on yourself and your pets to catch any ticks before they attach.
  • Eat a lot of garlic (it causes the body to give off a scent that ticks detest).
  • Check your clothing, gear and pets. 
    • Tumble dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing. 
    • If you need to wash the clothes, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
  • Shower soon after being outdoors. This may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good chance to look for ticks.
  • Check your body for ticks

What do you do if a tick has latched? Follow the CDC’s guidelines on removing it (you will need a pair of tweezers). Act quickly.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle (more about local ticks), CDC, American Hiking Society, Bay Area Lyme Foundation

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