Helpful tips to prevent ticks and enjoy getting outdoors on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest:

Woodtick on the edge of a blade of grassIf you spend time outdoors or have pets that go outdoors, you need to beware of ticks. Ticks are small bloodsucking parasites, often so small they are difficult to see. Many types of ticks can transmit diseases to animals and people, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.

Ticks attach themselves to hosts that walk through areas where they live, such as tall grass, leaf litter or shrubs. Once aboard, ticks crawl until they find a good spot to feed, then burrow their mouthparts into the skin for a blood meal. Their bodies slowly enlarge to accommodate the amount of blood ingested. Ticks feed anywhere from several minutes to several days depending on their species, life stage and type of host. Blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) can potentially transmit the disease organisms that cause Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis (formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis), babesiosis, and Powassan encephalitis.

Tick Bite Prevention Tips

Use tick repellent when necessary, and carefully follow instructions on the label. Take care when using repellents on children. To find the best repellent for you, use the EPA's repellent search form

  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants. This can help keep ticks on the outside of your clothing where they can be more easily spotted and removed. Treat clothing and footwear with a permethrin-based repellant that provides weeks of protection and remains through several washings.

  • Stay on well-worn paths and out of tall grass or bushy areas when hiking.

  • Protect your dog with tick collars or monthly treatments. This will help to prevent ticks from being brought into your home by the dog.

  • Check for ticks immediately after being outdoors. The longer a tick is attached, the greater your risk of infection. Check yourself, your children and pets thoroughly for ticks. Carefully inspect areas around the head, neck, ears, under arms, between legs, and back of knees. Look for what may appear like a new freckle or speck of dirt.

  • Promptly remove the tick using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid removing the tick with bare hands. Don't twist or jerk the tick -- this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers.

  • After removing the tick, disinfect the bite site and wash your hands.

  • If you suffer a tick bite and develop a fever one to two weeks later, see a doctor. The incubation period for tick-borne diseases is eight to 14 days.

  • Avoid Folk Remedies to Remove a Tick. Hot matches or coating the tick's body with petroleum jelly, soap, or nail polish do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and causing it to release additional saliva, increasing the chance of transmitting disease. These methods of tick removal should be avoided.

For more information about ticks, please go to the Center for Disease Control tick site. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/ 

Photo courtesy of: Center for Disease Control