Tick Prevention in Maine: Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, what better time than now to review the best ways to avoid ticks in Maine. If you have spent much time outside this spring you'll know firsthand that the ticks are out in full force this year. Depending on the town that you live in public parks may or may not have pesticides sprayed to eliminate some of the tick population however most large parks and conservation trust trails avoid potentially harmful pesticides and allow nature to run its course. This means you need to take steps to ensure that you are protected from these pesky arachnids (yes, they are classified in the same family as spiders).
7 Steps to avoid ticks in Maine
Wear protective clothing
The best advice is to wear clothing that will keep bugs off you. This can mean long sleeves and long pants. They have many options available for lightweight and breathable fabric to keep you comfortable while remaining covered. This also means wearing a hat if possible to keep ticks from getting to your hair as easily. Another helpful tip, tuck your pants into your socks - this may not be acceptable by the fashion police but ticks can easily find their way on your ankles and up your legs by walking through short grass. Tucking in your pants gives you time to find them or for them to fall off before making it to your skin.
Frequently check for ticks
If you feel a tickle, check for ticks. If your outdoors with a friend or partner keep an eye on one another. Ticks won't immediately attach which means you have a little bit of time before they will bite and start to bury. Make it a habit to frequently check for tickets and do a thorough check when you get home.
Wear bug repellent
We recommend wearing EPA approved bug reppelent such as deet which has been proven to be the most effective however if you prefer to stick with more natural options like essential oils another good option is lemon eucalyptus. Apply immediately before going out and then every so often while you're outside for long periods of time.
Wear light colors
Wearing light colors that cover your arms and legs will allow you to more easily see ticks so you can remove them before that latch. Ticks are usually dark brown or black in color so their body will stand out against the light colors.
Avoid brushing up against trees, bushes, and tall grass
Avoiding contact with trees, bushes and tall grass may not be possible on many of the trails that you walk but avoiding contact and cut down on the chances of a tick landing on you. Ticks can also be transferred by pets of animals so sometimes this is not possible. When possible stick to marked trails, away from trees and out of the tall grass.
Use a lint roller on clothes and pets after your walk
This life hack has saved me hours from searching for ticks on myself and my furry friends. Have a lint roller handy, peel off a fresh sticky layer, and run along your clothes and or pet's fur. Ticks stick to the lint roller and it's a great way to remove the really small ticks that our eyes can often miss.
Change clothes when you get home
This is only necessary if you have been tracking through heavily dense areas of ticks. Rather than trying to find every tick that landed on you, change clothes when you get home. This will also give you a chance to make sure they have not ended up on your skin.
When you find a tick it can be difficult to get rid of them and if you put them in the trash they may find their way back to your floor. If you're trying to kill a tick you can smash it or place it in a plastic bag to suffocate it.
If you find that you have been bitten by a tick then follow these steps:
Remove the tick from your skin using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward in a steady motion.
Clean the bite location with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab.
Dispose of the tick unless you need to identify the type of tick later (if needed store it in a plastic bag).
Observe the site of the tick bite.
If there is any itching, swelling, or redness it is wise to see a doctor, the sooner they can treat it the better.
For more information on how to prevent tick bites and Lymes disease, you can visit Maine's CDC page here.
We hope you find this helpful so that you can still get outside to enjoy the summer in Maine while staying safe around ticks! Check out our Arundel Conservation Trust trails here. Happy hiking!