Tick Safety 101
While adult ticks are the easiest to identify by species, immature stages of ticks may also transmit some pathogens. In addition, male and female ticks of the same species may look different. Of the many different tick species found throughout the world, only a select few bite and transmit disease to humans. Reducing exposure to ticks is the best defense against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tickborne infections. There are several approaches you and your family can use to prevent and control Lyme disease:
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.
Avoid direct contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Always walk in the center of trails when possible.
Repel ticks with DEET or permethrin. Use repellents that contain at least 20-30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions.
Permethrin should only be applied to clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer. Other repellents registered by the EPA may be found online at https://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect.
When checking for ticks, remember to:
- When you come in from outdoors, check all over your body for ticks, including your groin, head, and underarms. Comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb, or have someone check your scalp.
- To remove ticks from clothing, put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out in the sun on a hot day for at least 15 minutes. The heat can kill the ticks. Also check for ticks on any gear you had with you in the woods.
- Check your children daily for ticks, especially during the summer months.
- Check your pets for ticks after they've been outdoors. Your pets can carry infected ticks indoors where they might fall off your pet and attach to you.