While on a recent trip I came to the startling discovery that Southern Cali folks are seriously uneducated in regards to ticks and Lyme disease. My family is from the east coast and I've got an unhealthy obsession with 3am research. So as a lover of most things outdoors I of course went down that rabbit hole long ago lol. I compiled some info for you guys and highly recommend doing some more research regarding specific data or asking any questions you might have.
I've found several ticks on myself over the years. As a sometimes avid hiker, camper, mountain biker, that also lived on a ranch for a few summers, it was inevitable that I'd come across the lil suckers. But knowledge is power. Knowing their habitat, how to detect, how to remove, and what symptoms to look for has thus far kept me healthy (The state of my mental health cannot be attributed to ticks lol).
What caught me by surprise was how many ticks we found in our group while out in the desert. Yup, that's right, we found them in Death Valley! Specifically in the Wildrose area. Further research revealed that this is pretty common in that specific area. Who knew!?
Thank goodness it only led to a few serious cases of loud screeching and funny dance moves!!!
The bad news?? Ticks can be tiny, and the tiniest of ticks are the most likely to transmit Lyme disease. I'm talking poppy seed tiny!
The good news??? In our region contracting Lyme is pretty darn rare. I'm saying you're more likely to get into a jeep accident on the way to your outdoor activity!
So don't be afraid of the bugs, just be prepared!!!
For the purpose of this post I will be talking about the Western Blacklegged Tick because it's the evil guy who transmits Lyme to their hosts here in California. There are other illness that can come from bacteria found in most ticks but Lyme is the boogeyman we healthy adults are most worried about (Remember when I said their would be opportunity to partake in your own research?).
Nymphs may be encountered in a variety of habitats, but they are most plentiful in certain types of dense woodlands or forests containing hardwood. The nymphs are more often found in leaf litter and pine needles and much less likely to be found in grasslands. So check yourself after foraging or collecting firewood.
Adults are typically found on the edges of low lying vegetation. They climb to the very tip and wait for a worthy host to disturb them. This is a good reason to stay on trail and it's why I prefer the center, avoiding as much brush as possible.
As for adults, it is the female we need to worry about. Males mostly hitch a ride on a host looking for females.
Guys are horny and women will suck the life out of ya. Hmm...
Anyway, you can research their activity cycles but unless its below freezing there is a chance you can get chosen.
Preventing exposure to ticks is the best way to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease. Know how to recognize the western blacklegged tick and the areas and times of year where and when this tick occurs. Always inspect clothing, exposed skin, and pets for ticks when outdoors in tick habitats, and oneself for several days afterward to ensure that one or more nymphs may not have been overlooked. Ticks tend to climb upward, so wearing full-length pants and a long-sleeved shirt, tucking your shirt into your pants, and tucking pant legs into socks will help keep ticks off your skin. But be warned that this attire may also prevent the attraction of the opposite sex
Light colored clothing also makes them easier to detect.
Consider repellents such as OFF! Deep Woods and good ole Permethrin ( I get it at walmart). But please research these chemicals and there possible affects on you and your furry friends.
Their are vaccines available for dogs so check with your Vet.
Perform tick checks. Unless your a contortionist a mirror or unlucky friend might be needed to check certain areas.
Check your pets too!
-Removing a tick and the tools of the trade
If you find an attached tick, remove it immediately. This can prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Research demonstrates that it takes 24 hours for a nymph to transmit Lyme
Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers. If tweezers are unavailable, use fingers protected with gloves or tissue paper whenever possible. Be careful not to squash a fed or partially fed tick because some tick-borne agents may be transmitted through broken or possibly even unbroken skin.
Slowly and steadily pull the tick straight out. Remove any mouthparts that break off in the wound, and consult a physician if necessary. The mouthparts may be contaminated with other bacteria that sometimes cause secondary infections, but the mouthparts alone will not transmit Lyme disease spirochetes.
Do not jerk or twist the tick as you extract it. Do not apply alcohol, fingernail polish, heat from a lit match, or petroleum jelly to the tick. These methods are ineffective and therefore ill-advised.
Clean the wound with soap and water. Apply a mild antiseptic such as rubbing alcohol or povidone-iodine, if available.
My weapon of choice has always been needle point tweezers. Sometimes referred to as tick tweezers but commonly found in the beauty section of your favorite drug store.
I also have a tool called a Tick Key (Tick Wrangler is another name) but have never had the luxury to use it. Many swear by it.
Another tool growing in popularity is the Tick Twister. However the CDC warns against such a method so choose that at your own risk.
Whatever method you choose there are plenty of YouTube videos showing you how to do it.
If you have any information, tips, or tricks that I may have missed speak up! Don't get ticked at me!!!