Keep Yourself – Tick Free !
Ticks – the bane of anyone who enjoys the outdoors. They’re silent, sneaky little vectors of disease. But like any sneaky insect- the key to avoiding them is to avoid the habitat they’re most commonly found in. Minimizing your exposure to the conditions that make them thrive will greatly reduce your exposure to them. If you’re a forester that is not always an option. Sometimes you have to be in prime tick habitat – for hours at a time . In that case its vitally important that you dress properly. But for those who don’t have to work outside, in a variety of conditions, here are a few tips for avoiding habitat where ticks are most prevalent.
Avoid Recently Timbered Areas
When you are walking through the woods your travels may take you through areas that were recently harvested. If the harvest took place within the last 10 years, the conditions will be ideal for ticks. The combination of leafy brush and switchgrass, in the old skid trail , along with the prevalence of rodents and mammals create and ideal environment for ticks to thrive. ( Rodents and mammals are important blood meals for deer ticks.) Its best to avoid walking through these spots as much as possible. Following the edge of them – while staying in the dense woods – is your best bet.
Avoid The Edges Of Grassy Fields
The edges of grassy field are prime habitat for ticks, especially the deer tick. The numerous blades of grass act as an ideal platform from which to quest for a blood meal. The ticks will lie in wait until a host comes along that they can attach themselves to. Edges of fields are also preferred habitat for white-tailed deer. Their presence, in turn, increases the amount of ticks that will be found in this type of habitat.
Oak/Pine Forest Types
Deer ticks rely upon white footed mice as a blood meal for their life cycle. White footed mice in turn rely upon acorns as a source of food. Needless to say most forests, where Oaks are abundant, have a high prevalence of deer ticks. If you live in a part of the country where this is a predominant forest type – always dress to avoid ticks. Your chances of finding them on you are much higher than in other forest types like northern hardwoods or northern conifer(s).
Grassy Openings On Hiking Trails
These may take the form of an abounded logging road that the trail follows or an old yarding area or forest opening that the trail goes through. Either way, they are nothing short of tick playgrounds. Be aware of this and avoid them if at all possible.
Shrubby Wetlands/Stream-River Bottoms
Wetlands are usually full of very dense, high grasses, reeds and brush. They are also moist – which ticks like- along with great cover for many forms of wildlife that carry ticks.
Streams and river bottoms act as corridors of travel for many sources of wildlife that carry ticks. They also tend to be filled with invasive species of plants. Like wetland flora, these plants make for ideal cover for rodents that carry ticks – such as rabbits. They are also tough to walk through which increase your chances of rubbing against leaves and branches that may have a ticks questing on them.
Despite your best intentions or out of necessity – you may just not be able to avoid these sites. Yet ,if you dress properly by wearing Treated Pants, Shirts, Gaiters and Hats your chances of finding a tick on you are greatly reduced. One less tick on you means one less chance of getting a debilitating disease .