How to Keep Tick Safe this Fall

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Summer is on its way out and fall is sweeping in. That means it's almost sweater weather, and the perfect temperature for long hikes in the woods to view the pretty fall scenery. Though there may not be as many mosquitoes or deer flies to combat in the fall, one critter remains and becomes more active in the cooler weather - ticks. Ticks are active any time the temperature is above 4°C, and one of Ontario's most prominent tick species, the Blacklegged Tick, is most active during the fall. 

Deer Tick

Species of tick vary from region to region, but the 4 most common species are Blacklegged (or Deer), American Dog, Brown Dog, and most recent to Ontario, Lone Star Tick. All species listed carry different transmittable disease if they have fed on a host long enough, including Lyme Disease which is carried and passed by Blacklegged ticks. Here are some simple ways you can help prevent tick bites this fall.

1. Cover up & tuck in
Ticks are small (some as tiny as a poppy seed!), stealthy, and tenacious. They will climb up pant legs, inside shirts, drop from trees and bushes into hair - anywhere there is skin, they can get to it! Covering your skin as much as possible is the best defense against tick bites. When choosing your outdoor gear, opt for light colours that make it easier to find ticks that have grabbed onto your clothing. In addition to wearing long pants, but sure to tuck them into your socks to stop any ticks hitchhiking on your shoes from making their way into your pant legs.  

2. Stay out of long grass
Ticks like to hang out in long grass, where they can "quest" for their next blood meal host. Questing is a behaviour where a tick climbs up a blade of grass or other object, and waits there with its front legs outstretched. This action makes it easier for the tick to grab onto hosts as they walk by. By avoiding long grass areas, you can largely avoid coming into contact with ticks. This is not 100% effective as some will still venture to shorter grass areas and may also be present in fallen leaves, mulch, and in trees and shrubs, but it certainly lowers your chances of becoming a host. 

3. Treat clothing when necessary
Chemicals aren't always the answer, but if you're in an area where ticks are prevalent you may want to consider some extra protection to keep yourself safe. Products containing DEET or icaridin are the most effective at repelling ticks, and there are lots of natural products available as well. Before going on an outing, spray your clothing in a well-ventilated area and allow to air dry. Focus on areas ticks are most likely to grab onto such as pant legs and socks. 

4. Tick check
After an outing, even in your backyard if you live near wooded areas or have long grass, it is important to do a thorough tick check on yourself, your children, and your pets. Be sure to check clothes, in shoes, around collars and cuffs, and all over your body. Ticks will bite anywhere but like to hide so look around the ears, inner thighs, behind the knees, armpits, and around the hair line. If possible, do your tick check outdoors to avoid bringing ticks into the home where they may fall off only to find you later on. Remove your clothing as soon as possible, shake them outdoors, and throw them in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes, then wash. Shower and re-check to be safe!

* Tip: Use a lint roller over your clothes before entering your home. This will pick up ticks that are on the outside of clothing. 

Blacklegged Tick bite in ear

Even when taking all of the precautions listed, tick bites are still possible. If you find yourself the victim of a tick bite, don't panic. It is important to remember to not crush or damage the body of the tick, this can cause Lyme and other bacteria to pass from the tick into your bloodstream. If using a tick removal tool, read instructions carefully and follow directions. If using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Firmly pull the tick straight out - do not twist or squeeze the tick. Once the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water and disinfect with iodine or rubbing alcohol. Follow up with a doctor if the entire tick was not removed, or if you experience any flu-like symptoms (rash, fever, muscle aches, headache, etc) in the days after you received the bite. 

Stay safe & happy trails!
- Shayna

No comments:

Post a Comment