Avoiding a Tick Bite

Tick Habits

  • Ticks crawl upward, against gravity.
  • They are attracted to carbon dioxide from people and animals.
  • Adult ticks like to feed and mate on deer.
  • Ticks have to stay cool and moist.

Where are ticks?

  • Mostly in woodsy areas, where deer roam.
  • Hiding in damp piles of leaves, tall grass, and bushes.
  • Sometimes in short grass, on well-watered shady lawns.
  • Sitting at the tips of blades of grass with their legs outstretched, ready to grab onto a passing host.
  • Waiting in low brush or on shrubs along trails.
  • In the bushes on golf courses.
  • Sometimes they drop from trees.

Tick Bite Prevention

  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes that cover the feet, and a hat.
  • Wear light-colored clothes to see ticks better.
  • Tuck your shirt in, and tuck the cuffs of pants into your socks.
  • Seal your socks to your pant legs with duct tape to prevent ticks from reaching skin.
  • Use duct tape or wide masking tape, sticky side out, around clothes below knees, to catch ticks crawling up.
  • Use repellent on clothes and exposed skin;  wash it off when you come inside.
  • Hike in the center of trails; try not to brush against plants along trails.
  • Wear a roll of wide masking tape or duct tape around your arm to keep it handy, in case you get attacked by hundreds of tiny ticks at once.
  • Don’t stand still long on trails. Lone star ticks can crawl quickly to get on you.
  • Stay out of tall grass and piles of leaves.
  • If a golf ball gets into the bushes, don’t go in to get it. Use another ball. Don’t risk getting a tick on you.
  • Check yourself often for ticks when outside.

Repellents

  • The CDC recommends spraying permethrin (permanone) on clothing the day before an outing.  Permethrin is an insecticide and must not be used on skin. It is the most effective product. Ticks drop off and die without biting.
  • The CDC recommends products containing DEET on skin, such as OFF and Cutter’s.  DEET is toxic and should be washed off when coming indoors. DEET doesn’t repel ticks but can make it difficult for them to find you.
  • Picaridin, which is in Cutter’s Advanced, is less toxic than DEET and is used world-wide to prevent mosquito bites.  It provides some protection against ticks.
  • People have reported that repellents containing cactus juice are more effective than DEET.
  • Lemon oil eucalyptus is an all-natural repellent that is somewhat effective for ticks. There is concern that it may not be safe for children.
  • Bounce fabric softener sheets placed in socks can help keep insects away. They haven’t been studied for ticks.
  • Bathing in Irish Spring soap or rubbing a dry bar of it on the cuffs of socks and pants can repel insects. It may or may not help repel ticks.

Check Yourself Thoroughly

  • When you come inside, bathe as soon as possible.
  • Using lots of soap may help remove any unattached ticks.
  • Check yourself all over for ticks.
  • Check cozy places, where skin meets skin and clothing fits tightly.
  • Check the waist, belly button, behind knees, private parts, armpits, neck, in and behind ears, and under the hair.
  • Use a mirror for your back.
  • Look and feel for ticks.  They can be as tiny as the dot of an “i” and may feel like a tiny scab.
  • If covered with ticks, take clothes off in a dry bathtub and place them immediately in the washing machine or dryer, or place them in a trash bag and spray permethrin insecticide into the bag.  Close the bag tightly until ready to launder clothes.
  • Dry clothes an extra hour on high heat after the clothes have dried.  Ticks die if thoroughly dried out.  They survive the washing machine.
  • Check your pets for ticks before they come indoors.
  • Discuss ways to protect pets and farm animals with your veterinarian.
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