As the weather warms and more people head outdoors, a looming threat is waiting in tall grasses and wooded areas.
No, it’s not an alpha predator, it’s teeny tiny arthropods: ticks.
While a little critter doesn’t sound overly threatening, ticks should be taken seriously. They carry a variety of diseases that can prove to be fatal.
According to etick.ca, a public platform monitoring tick populations in Canada, they have received 1,750 tick identification submissions so far in 2022.
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So, what do you need to know about ticks and how to avoid Lyme disease? We rounded up some helpful information so you can stay healthy!
What are ticks?
According to Orkin, there are more than 850 types of ticks worldwide. Only a few species live in Canada. The eight-legged creatures have an external mouth part for feeding. Ticks are very tiny so they’re hard to spot, Orkin says they range in size from the size of a seed to about the size of a pea.MakroBetz
Here’s how big ticks are:
- Nymph (around 1.15 mm)
- Adult male (around 2 mm)
- Adult female (around 3 mm)
- Fed adult female (up to 1 cm)
Canada is home to a few varieties of tick. There’s the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Ticks themselves aren’t dangerous, but they carry diseases that can make people seriously ill and could even be fatal.
What diseases do ticks carry?
Ticks are most commonly known for spreading Lyme disease. Lyme disease is most commonly caused by black-legged ticks, according to the Government of Ontario. Untreated Lyme disease can have long-lasting impacts on the body.
According to Orkin, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia can be caused by a bite from American dog ticks.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks can be found across most of the country. Ticks like shady wooded areas and tall grass. This includes places like city parks, golf courses, hiking trails and other outdoor areas.
Tick nymphs are most active in spring and summer, while adults are active in the fall. They can be active as long as the weather is above freezing.
How to check for ticks
It’s important to check for ticks if you’ve been outdoors in an area where they might be active.
It’s important to check your body and your pets’ after an outdoor adventure. Make sure you check these spots:
- Head and hair
- In and around ears
- Around the chest
- Belly button
- Around the groin
- Legs and behind the knees
- Between toes
How to avoid ticks
There are a number of ways you can dress and precautions to take to avoid tick bites. According to the Government of Canada, wearing long sleeves and pants that are light-coloured makes it easier to spot ticks.
Wearing closed-toed shoes and making sure there are no gaps in clothing can prevent ticks from being able to get a bite. Insect repellent containing DEET can help deter ticks, too.
If you’re out hiking in an area where there could be ticks, it’s best to stick to the trails so you’re not wandering through the tall grasses.
The Government of Canada recommends showering as soon as you can after entering an area that might have ticks. Check your entire body, and put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill off any ticks that may have stuck to your clothing.
What to do if you find a tick on your body
If you end up getting a tick bite, you’ll want to use fine tweezers to remove the tick as soon as you can. Make sure to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. Once the tick has been removed clean the area where it bit you with soap and iodine or alcohol.
Once you’ve removed the tick, you should get in touch with your local public health unit or etick.ca to help identify the tick.