One of the toughest challenges metal detectorists face while in the field is avoiding ticks and tick bites. Not only are they parasites, but ticks potentially carry diseases that can have lifelong effects such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and can carry other pathogens that can cause human diseases.
How Ticks Find Hosts
Ticks find their hosts by sensing vibrations, body heat and moisture from an animal or person’s breath. Some tick species can even recognize a shadow. Ticks wait for a host while using a process called questing by holding onto the tips of grasses and shrubs with it’s hind legs. Ticks then hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to a passing host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly grabs on and climbs aboard looking for a place to feed on the host animal or person.
How Ticks Spread Disease
Ticks transmit pathogens that can cause diseases through the process of feeding on a host. Once a tick finds a feeding spot it cuts though the skin surface and then inserts it’s barbed feeding tube. Many tick species also secrete a glue-like substance that helps keep them firmly attached during their meal. Tick saliva contains anesthetic properties which makes it possible for the tick bite to go unnoticed by the host animal or person.
Once attached, ticks will suck blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has a blood-borne infection the tick can ingest pathogens in the blood. After feeding, most ticks will drop off until the next feeding. If the tick contains infected pathogens it can then transmit the acquired disease to the new host.
Preventing Tick Bites
It is possible to come into contact with ticks any time, however, ticks are most active during the warmer months of the year. From around April through September we should take additional preventive measures to avoid ticks. As stated though, ticks can be encountered any time of the year.
The best way to prevent tick bites is to avoid contact with ticks if possible. Stay out of wooded and brushy areas. Leaf litter and tall grass are also good spots to avoid. If possible, stay on trails and beaten paths. I enjoy metal detecting in the woods but during tick season I switch it up and detect at private property and other well-mowed areas like parks. However, some times it is impossible to avoid areas where ticks live and that is why we should all take steps to protect ourselves against tick bites.
Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing
So what steps can we take to help prevent ticks from getting on us? Well, there are two ways to protect yourself.
For your skin, you want to use a tick repellent that contains 20% or more of DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
For Clothing, Use products that contain permethrin. 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 tick repellent clothing is available and may be protective longer.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
If ticks do happen to get on your body there are steps you can take to find and remove them. Bathe as soon as possible after returning from tick infested areas. Use a fill-length or hand held mirror to do a full body check for hidden ticks. Parents should also inspect children, their clothing and pets for ticks. Dry clothing should be tumble dried on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks. If the clothes are wet they need to be washed with hot water and then dried on high heat in order to kill ticks effectively.
How to Remove a Tick
Remove any ticks found on your body with tweezers and be sure to get as close to the skin as possible. Using steady pressure, pull straight upward to remove the tick. Don’t twist the body in an effort to remove the entire tick.
After removal, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Never smash a tick with your fingers, always dispose of ticks by placing them in some type of sealed container they cannot escape and throw them in the trash.
Protect yourselves out there everybody, diseases that ticks and mosquitoes can carry are potentially dangerous so a little prevention goes a long way towards protecting you and your family.
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