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5 Myths About Ticks, Plus Tick Safety Tips

By Karen Ung

It’s tick season, so those of us playing in the great outdoors need to be aware of where ticks hang out, and cover up and do tick checks after hiking. Remember, not all ticks carry Lyme disease, so there’s no need to panic if you find a tick attached to you. Be sure to remove it, though!


5 Myths About Ticks

  • Myth 1: Ticks carrying Lyme disease do not live here. According to a Global News report, of the
    nearly 140 deer ticks found in Alberta last year, one in five tested positive for the bacteria.
  • Myth 2: Ticks only spread disease in the spring. Adult ticks are most active in the early spring and
    fall, whereas smaller nymph ticks are generally most active in the summer months.
  • Myth 3: Deer ticks only bite deer and dog ticks only bite dogs. Deer and dog ticks are named after
    the animals they are most frequently found on, but they will feed off of anything.
  • Myth 4: All ticks have eight legs. All adult ticks have eight legs, but their larvae have only six legs.
  • Myth 5: Ticks drop on you from trees. According to tickalert.org, ticks live in the soil and emerge to
    climb tall grass, shrubs, bushes and low level tree branches up to a height of 20 to 70 cm. They
    attach when people or animals brush past.
Wear light colours and long sleeves, and tuck pants into socks.

Wear a hat, light colours and long sleeves, and tuck pants into socks.

10 Tick Safety Tips

Full grown disease carrying ticks are only one to five mm in length, and non-full grown ticks are even smaller, so a tick check will not detect all critters.

The good news is that ticks generally take several hours to get settled in a feeding spot – usually somewhere warm and protected – and do not transmit disease until they’ve been attached for at least 36 hours, so you have lots of time to detect and remove them. Here are some ways to prevent tick borne diseases:

  1. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Gaiters should be worn in tall grass or bushes to prevent ticks from getting in at your ankles. Or, tuck your pants into your socks.
  2. Wear a hat. If you have long hair, keep it up in a ponytail.
  3. Wear light coloured clothes so it’s easier to see ticks. If you see any, brush them off immediately. Check your backpack too!
  4. Stay out of tall grass and brush as much as possible.
  5. Use bug spray that contains 20-30% DEET or 0.5% permethrin. Be sure to spray your footwear! (www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html)
  6. Avoid sitting on the ground on the side of the trail. Sit on a bench or rocks at hiking breaks instead.
  7. Remove ticks immediately. Tick removal instructions: www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html
  8. Shower and scrub with a washcloth after hiking to remove any little critters you can’t see.
  9. Comb your hair and check your children’s hair for ticks.
  10. Toss hiking clothes in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes (10 minutes if you have a gas dryer). The heat of the dryer will kill any ticks. Dry then wash clothes!

About the Author

Karen Ung is married to her backpacking sweetheart and is a mother and lover of maps, mountains and mochas.

With her geography degree and experience leading hikes and backpacking trips in the Rockies, she is full of ideas on where to go and what to do. The mission of her blog, Play Outside Guide, is to provide “everything families need to know to play outside and have fun.”

Connect with Karen: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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  1. globalnews.ca/news/1348443/ticks-and-lyme-disease-what-you-need-you-know/
  2. www.health.gov.sk.ca/lyme-disease
  3. www.health.ny.gov/publications/2825/
  4. canlyme.com/lyme-prevention/
  5. tickalert.org/faqs
  6. canlyme.com/lyme-prevention/tick-id-removal/
  7. www.health.ny.gov/publications/2825/
  8. www.tickencounter.org/ticksmart/tips

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