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612 Trail Sense

sign warning of ticks

This year with the lack of a cold winter and an early spring, ticks and other insects are expected to flourish. We have already found a few ticks on our dog and for that matter a few on us, too.

Ticks are parasites. Even if they did not carry various diseases, they still would not be a very popular insect. In fact, in my biased insect popularity contest, the tick ranks very low; but none of the parasites are popular. Perhaps Hollywood can work on the bloodsuckers image (it worked with vampires!) and make a movie to improve their reputation. Of course if they would just quit bitting me, I would like them much better.

Ticks are a part of the outdoor world. Just because I am not fond of them does not mean I would stop going outdoors because of ticks. Instead, I have just learned to live with them.

A few tick tips ...

Wear a long sleeved shirt and pants. Keep the shirt tucked in your pants and your pants tucked into your socks or boots, if possible.

If possible avoid contact with all of the vegetation growing near the trail. Just pretend that all the vegetation is poison ivy. The cleaver ticks cling to the underside of plant leaves and then hop on any passersby.

Also, be careful where you sit. Another tick hangout is in the duff from fallen leaves.

Spray a product on your clothes. Permethrin is supposed to be effective and lasts for a while. DEET is not as long lasting, but I have had good luck with DEET formulas working.

After a trail run I returned to camp and found my shoes and socks almost black from hundreds or dare I say, thousands of ticks. I sprayed the ticks with DEET and it killed them. Of course they might have drowned also. I really sprayed a lot.

I like the sprays better than the lotions, they are not as oily.

After a visit to the outdoors, do a tick check. If possible, take a shower.

The small nymph ticks are about the size of a freckle. In fact, they look like freckles.

If you find a tick, don't freak out. If the tick is still crawling around (unattached) it is easy to flick him off you.

Don't flick the tick onto anyone else or in a tent, car, or house. No one would be happy with a tick on the loose.

Tick flicking may never be an Olympic Sport, but the skillful flicker might at least deserve a merit badge. : - )

If the tick is attached, use tweezers, tick tweezers, or your fingers if no other tools are available and gently grab the head and pull the tick away from your skin.

Dental floss or thread also works well to loop around the tick and tighten the loop to remove the tick.

After you have been in tick country, do an initial tick check, but then be aware of every itch. It might not be a simple itch, but a tick instead. No problem, just remove it as before.

If the tick was embedded be sure to clean and treat the wound.

Our dog, Jake, is a Golden Retriever and has a full coat of thick hair. Finding a tick on him is difficult, especially a small tick. The best method for controlling ticks on the dog is using a systemic drug that kills the tick. The tick still latches onto the dog, but instead of feeding on the dog, it is essentially poisoned and dies.

I have actually avoided certain trails during tick season. If the trail is overgrown, then avoiding contact with the vegetation alongside the trail would be impossible. Ticks would certainly latch on to you in passing. I try to hike those trails in the winter.

Happy tick-less trails

ticks - Wikipedia


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