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  • Keith Bailey

How To Avoid Tick Bites In The Wild? - The Ultimate Guide

Ticks bites can be annoying, painful and dangerous. Here are my 8 best ways to avoid them when you’re out in the wild... or just working on your yard.

There are a lot of nasty bugs out there. Mosquitos pester you non stop, spiders are still creepy despite the grand purpose they serve in our world, and flies are just obnoxious.


But out of all of the bugs that you might come across in the wild, you should be most worried about ticks. They are found all over, and they actually pose a significant threat to humans. At best, a bite from a tick is going to be annoying and a bit gross. At worse, it can severely affect your health.


Here are a few of the best ways to avoid ticks and keep yourself safe.


1. Avoid Tick-Infested Areas


Ticks can live in pretty much any region of America, so that means that you should never go into the wilderness assuming that you’re completely safe. With that being said, there are certain areas where ticks are more common that you should definitely try to avoid.



You’re most likely to encounter a tick in tall grasses or heavy vegetation, so it’s important to stay on trail as much as possible. It can be easy to just walk into a plant with a tick on it if you’re bushwhacking off trail. Ticks are largely stationary, so stay out of any thick area where it seems like one could be hiding. If you're camping in National or State Parks with designated sites, simply call the office to inquire about the most recommended spots to avoid ticks.


2. Wear the Right Clothing


If your planned excursion has you going through some vegetation that you can’t route around, one great defense you can utilize is clothing. The biggest thing that you need to worry about is a tick getting on your skin, so wearing long sleeves and pants will do a good job of protecting you. Ticks also like to get into human hair, so wearing a hat can help in that regard.



In addition, it’s also very helpful to wear light-colored clothing so that you can more easily spot a tick if it does end up on your clothes. It’s also recommended to tuck your pants into your socks so that a tick doesn’t crawl up your pant leg without you noticing.


3. Have a Friend Check You


An important part of making sure that a tick doesn’t bite you is getting it off of your body before it has time to. You should keep an eye on your body and your clothes so that you can pick any ticks off of you, but what about the bugs that end up on parts of your body that aren’t so easy to check yourself?



That’s where a friend comes in. It’s a smart idea to do a routine tick check with a friend several times when you’re out in the wilderness. Simply giving a buddy give you a quick once-over can help you spot any ticks that might have otherwise bit you.


4. Use Bug Spray


Like many other insects that you might encounter, bug spray can really help protect you from ticks. The key is to look for sprays that contain DEET. In general, having around 20% or so of DEET will be sufficient in keeping you protected from ticks.



Don’t think that this will be some type of impenetrable anti-tick armor, though. Bug spray should be used in combination with the other techniques discussed in this list, as there is still a chance that a tick could wind up on you despite the spray. Remember to wash off the DEET after you get home, too. That’s always an important step with bug spray.


5. Swap Clothes


Avoiding a tick bite isn’t a process that just ends when you get back to the car. A tick could still be on your clothes even after you leave the wilderness. A great way to minimize the risk of getting a tick bite after you’re back to the car is to have a separate pair of clothes that you change into after your foray into the outdoors.



Place the clothes that you wore into a plastic bag after you change so that any potential ticks don’t crawl off into your car. Once you get home, you should immediately place those clothes in the wash, as a warm cycle will kill any pests that happened to hitchhike back to your house.


6. Check Once You’re Home


A common misconception about ticks is that all bites are as bad as one another. That isn’t really the case. You aren’t all that likely to get infected by a tick bite if you manage to pull the tick off of you quickly. That means that you should check your entire body for ticks as soon as you get home.



If you find that one hasn’t bitten you, don’t immediately freak out. Stay calm, grab some tweezers, and pull it out. It’s a creepy feeling, but you want to get it out of your body as fast as you can. Look all over your body, especially in spots like near the ears and in the hair where a tick might be able to hide for a while.


7. Use Natural Treatments to Avoid Ticks


Plenty of people out there aren’t really into using bug spray. I get that. If that describes you, you should look into some natural treatments that you can use in the same way that you might use bug spray. A mixture of essential oils can be used on both clothing and skin to repel ticks.



An even more potent tick repellant is 2-undecanone, a natural chemical that comes from tomatoes. You can rub that all over your gear and skin to keep ticks away, and it doesn’t have any of the potential negative side effects of DEET. The only downside is that compared to bug spray, it’s a bit harder to find natural treatments.


8. Pay Attention to Your Pets


If you’re serious about avoiding a tick bite, you are going to want to make sure that your pets don’t bring any into your home. You can give your pup an all-over tick check after he goes out, but it’s a bit simpler to get a product that will keep the ticks away all the time.



There are topical and edible treatments out there that you can give to your pet to help keep the ticks away. One popular product is Bravecto Chews. They’re small treats that slowly release a (safe) tick repellent into your dogs’ system that will kill any tick that happens to bite them.


 

Planning your next camping adventure? Here are the 10 most dangerous spiders in the American wild. Read carefully!