5 Tips for Tick Season
You might have noticed that over the past few months, ‘tick danger’ stories have been showing up in news feeds more often than your second cousin’s miracle triplets. And rightfully so- according to the Center for Disease Control, tick borne illnesses like Lyme are on the rise across the country, and Maine is no exception. Here at Maine Huts & Trails, we're happy to have one of the lowest tick populations in New England [map], but we're still not taking any chances. Luckily, staying safe doesn’t have to mean spending the summer inside. If you want to seriously decrease your risk of tick exposure and still have a summer packed with outdoor adventures, try these 5 tips to staying tick free:
Stay high and dry:
Ticks are hardy little arachnids- they can survive extreme climates: winters, droughts, heat waves, and floods. And they can be found almost anywhere- their favorite hangouts are low-lying areas around water, grassy clearings, and dense forest. Staying at a higher elevation, and staying on the trail are key to avoiding ticks.
Dress (and spray) appropriately:
While you might not win any fashion points, it’s a good idea to tuck in your clothes wherever you can, and consider wearing clothes treated with an insecticide like Permethrin. Bug sprays that contain DEET are also very effective when it comes to repelling ticks and other insects, but you should avoid spraying them directly onto your skin. If you’re concerned about the effects of insecticides on your health and the environment, you’re not alone. Check out this guide from the Environmental Working Group to weigh your risks and make an informed decision.
Check, then check again:
When you’re out on the trail, make sure to do a quick scan for ticks every time you stop. Check your ankles, waistline, and neck to find any ticks you’ve picked up before they bite you. When you’re back inside for the night, grab a mirror and a (very) close friend and do a more thorough check.
Found one attached? Remove it carefully:
If a tick has chosen you, proceed with caution. It’s crucial that you remove the entire tick- ideally with a special tool like a tick key, but tweezers and a slow, deliberate yank will do the trick, as demonstrated in this video from the University of Manitoba. According to the Center for Disease Control, a tick can only transmit Lyme disease if it’s been attached for 24 hours… though more rare diseases may transmit faster. It’s a good idea to call your doctor if you’ve been bitten, even if you feel fine. They’ll tell you what to watch for, and reporting a tick encounter helps researchers understand the risk.
Know the symptoms:
Tick borne illnesses can be hard to diagnose. Most of us know to look for the signature ‘bullseye’ rash as a sign of Lyme disease, but that doesn’t appear in every case. Early symptoms of Lyme disease like headaches, joint pain, and sleeplessness are easy to ignore, especially if you’re living that ‘work hard play hard’ life. If you’re more tired and achy than usual, or have had an unexplained fever, call your doctor. See more about symptoms of tick borne illnesses from the CDC >>
Tick borne illnesses can be really scary, and even though we’re relatively safe up here, we still take every precaution, and you should too.
Read more about staying safe in the woods: 3 Most Dangerous Animals in the Maine Woods
The Tick App:
This free app teaches you how to identify ticks, avoid their bites, and safely remove them from your skin.