Wilderness Survival - Tick Season

Wilderness Survival - Tick Season

Almost everyone has had some sort of encounter with a tick at some point in their life.  These insects rate right up there with flies and mosquitoes in my book. It seems that even with precautions, you may still find them on you if not in you, and most people don't even know the potential seriousness of a tick bite unless it you end up in the hospital.
Ticks are parasitic arachnids that are part of the mite superorder Parasitiformes. Adult ticks are approximately 3 to 5 mm in length depending on age, sex, species, and "fullness". Ticks are external parasites, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.

Although there are hundreds of species of ticks found throughout the world, fewer than 60 are known to bite and spread disease to humans. Ticks can be infected with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases in the United States include: Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, and tularemia.

Most tick bites are relatively harmless when caught early. But if the tick that bites you happens to be carrying Lyme disease, the side effects can be devastating – and, in some cases, even cause death – if left untreated.



Use Products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat shoes, boots, clothing, and hiking equipment and remain protective through several washings. This can deter ticks from traveling across your clothing to access your body.


How do insect repellents work? Mosquitoes and ticks are attracted to skin odors and the carbon dioxide we exhale. They also use heat, movement, and visual cues to find a possible host. Repellents affect an insect's senses such as smell and taste to prevent it from finding a human or animal host.

Be sure to use approved products that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.  Always apply per the instructions and only to valid candidates.

Family Pets also have approved insect repellents that work very well.  They come in various forms for application such as drops, pills, sprays, and collars.  Check with your vet for more details relating you your pet.


Throughout your outing, take the time to look yourself over for ticks that may be on your clothing or body.  A second set of eyes is always helpful to view places that you can't see yourself.  Check your kids and pets thoroughly and then check them again daily for a few days as ticks have a way of getting into your equipment, catching a ride home with you, then dropping unexpectedly onto the floor in your house or garage as you unpack.  They then can easily find their way back to your freshly showered body for dinner.  


Besides these helpful tips, you should try to wear light-colored clothing to make it easy to see ticks before they make it to your body.  You can also research the area before you go to see if the ticks are particularly bad that year.  According to experts, every year is a bad year for ticks so it is a good idea to prepare for the worst.  A few extra steps can save you and your pets from a disease that could be prevented.

If you find a tick embedded in your body, you should call your doctor for their recommendation.  The same goes for ticks embedded in your pet, call your vet for help. 


The best way to protect yourself from becoming a statistic while on a wilderness outing is to prepare yourself before leaving your house.  Take the time to learn about the area where you are going. Buy yourself a small backpack and supply it with the basic survival items and then never leave home without it.  Know how to use each item and practice with them ahead of time.  Don't wait until you are sitting in the rain with only a few minutes of daylight left to try to figure out how a firestarter works.  Above all, SAFETY FIRST! Then keep your head on straight at all times, and no matter how bad the situation seems, never panic.  If you have prepared properly, then help will be on the way and you will have the tools to survive until they reach you.       

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