Tips for hiking in tick areas

When hiking in the bush you’re more likely to come into contact with a tick than a snake, so it’s worth knowing how to avoid these dangerous little creatures.

Ticks are blood-sucking insects that can carry and transmit viruses, bacteria and parasites. The worst of these diseases is Lyme Disease. Here are some tips to help you avoid ticks when hiking.

Appropriate clothing is your best defence in tick country. You need to cover up. Wear a broad-brimmed hat, long pants, long sleeve shirt and shoes (not sandals). Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Light coloured clothing is preferable as it makes it easier to spot them if they land on you.

Try to walk in the middle of trails, away from grass, bushes and trees. The less you brush up against nature the less chance you’ll encounter ticks. Spray a tick repellant on your clothes before you start your hike. Permethrin is the active ingredient you need, so even consider treating your clothes with it before you leave home.

Each time you have a break do a body check to make sure no ticks have landed on you. It’s much easier to extract a tick if it has just bitten you, than if it has had time to embed itself. Do a full check once you set up camp, including your backpack and sleeping gear.

If you choose to wear shorts or short sleeve shirts, you’ll need to check yourself more often and more thoroughly, particularly if you get covered in mud or grime during your hike.

If you do get a tick bite, here’s how to treat a tick bite.