It’s that time of year again. The sun is starting to shine, the hedgerows are teeming with life and the ticks are out in force. Yes, it’s spring which means it’s tick season once more. After months of lockdown, you will not be alone as you pine for the great wilderness, and the last thing you want is for ticks to spoil your adventure. So, read our #TickTips to find out how you can protect yourself when out and about.
Don’t know what to look for when checking for ticks? You are not alone. Members of the spider family, ticks are small brownish creatures that are easy to miss. The charity Lyme Disease Action has created a quick reference guide, which you can read here. Ticks love to feed on blood, and sometimes when they attach to a human they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, so it is important to be tick aware.
As ticks are dark in colour, wear light-colour clothing so you can spot any more easily. Wearing longer sleeve tops and trousers, as well as tucking your trousers into your socks, will reduce direct exposure and make it more of a challenge for the tick to reach your skin. Use an insect repellent or clothes designed specifically to reduce bites. The Scottish brand Keela has created a great range of outdoor clothing and accessories with added Insect Shield treatment.
Long grass, shady woodland and deep vegetation are favourite resting spots for ticks. As you explore you will naturally brush against grasses and flora, making it easy for ticks to attach to your clothes. Consider looking at your route and sticking to defined paths that avoid deep vegetation. Not only does this limit your chances of picking up a tick, but it is also good Countryside Code etiquette and protects the natural environment from erosion.
Despite taking all precautions, if you are regularly out and about the chances are you may end up finding a tick or two. Once you are back from your walk do a tick-check; brushing them off clothing before they get a chance to attach, and checking your skin for any that have made it through. Don’t forget to also take a look over your four-legged companion too. If you notice one has latched on it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible to minimise the risk of infection. Invest in a tick remover like this one from O’Tom for simple and effective removal.
It is estimated that one in ten ticks in the UK carry diseases and so, though it is important to know how to protect yourself while outdoors, ticks should not deter you from heading out on an adventure. Armed with the right knowledge and tools, ticks can become just another part of the natural surroundings, a space that has greater importance this year as we look to expand our playground.
Here's a few more helpful resources if you want further reading:
For more information about identifying ticks and tick removal visit the Lyme Disease Action site
When bitten by a tick some people develop Lyme disease. The NHS has great information for those affected here