Warm weather is here. You may want your kids to head out into the woods and run and play and explore and lounge, if they so well please, but you've got these pesky little ticks to worry about. We understand the concern. They are dangerous, causing a number of tick-borne diseases. They are a tad scary - I mean, who wants a parasite latched on to them? And they seem to show up most places in the world, so that's reassuring.
Like with most animals and insects in the woods, it's important to consider the "what-ifs" of a wildlife encounter. There are reasons to be cautious, reasons to take certain precautions and reasons to arm yourself with knowledge if an encounter happens. But there are also reasons to rest easy and relax a bit. Knowledge and a little tweaking to your heading-in-and-out-the-door rhythm can go a long way toward protecting your kids from ticks and other insects.
So let's talk ticks and get ourselves ready to coexist with them as we do our thing and they do theirs (just hopefully not on us!). Tips courtesy of Tick Encounter Resource Center.
General Tick Info
Here are some helpful facts about ticks (including an unsightly picture of what they look like, so I'll keep it tiny):
- Ticks are small. Some the size of poppy seeds, others the size of sesame seeds.
- Ticks are often found in wooded areas, on grass and leaves, and in fields of tall grasses.
- Ticks cling onto people and animals as they pass and then make their way to the skin to latch. The concern for spreading tick-borne disease begins once a tick is latched onto the skin, not when it is crawling on top of the skin or clothing.
- Ticks can latch on skin in any location, but be sure to check warmer, sweaty spots.
- There are a number of tick-borne diseases, including the well discussed Lyme Disease.
- Not all ticks are the same. Some ticks carry diseases and others do not.
Before you head into the woods:
- Dress for coverage. Wear pants, closed-toed shoes and the ever stylish socks over your pant legs.
- Use a tick repellent, purchased or homemade.
When headed into the woods:
- Avoid places where ticks hang out - i.e. fields of tall grasses or leaf piles.
After you leave the woods:
- Do a tick check. Strip down, check everywhere, including your scalp.
- Throw the clothes you wore into the dryer on high heat for 10-15 minutes.
Find a Tick?
What to do if you find a tick on you or your child:
- Is the tick embedded directly in the skin or is it crawling on your skin or clothing? If it's just crawling remove it and throw it back into the woods or flush it down the toilet.
- If the tick is embedded, check out this six step guide for tick removal.
Staying Calm about Ticks
The woods are generally filled with delightful experiences, and like ticks, some not so delightful aspects as well. Knowing more about when and where ticks are more likely to show up, how to prevent yourself from being bitten and what to do if you find one helps tremendously.
Checking for ticks has become a part of our rhythm for getting ready to go out into the woods, so much so that it almost feels second nature. We do it to protect ourselves, so that we can enjoy everything else the forest has to offer. We're not alarmed about getting a tick bite, just proactive about what we do to prevent and respond to them. Co-existing, indeed.
Have questions about ticks? Check out the information over at Tick Encounter Resource Center or leave us a question in the comments below.