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Tick Awareness & Tick Bite Resources

Published May 30th, 2018

Ticks are a very real hazard when spending time outside in the Hudson Valley.

We encounter moving and attached ticks regularly at Wild Earth. Reducing the risk of lyme and other tick borne illness requires effort at home as well as in the field. Together, we can minimize encounters with ticks and how long they are attached. Our highest priority in the field is quick detection.

At Wild Earth programs, our instructors facilitate two tick checks at every program day.

During these group tick checks participants check themselves in visible places: neck, arms, legs, and scalp. When they go to the bathroom, participants are further encouraged to check themselves privately.

If an attached tick is found during a program, our instructors will remove the tick and clean the site of the bite. When a tick is removed from a participant, our staff will notify parents at the end of the program day. Our instructors will have a written record of the bite location, species (if known), and notes about the removal process. When possible, we will save removed ticks to give to you alongside your tick bite documentation.

At home, we ask you to be responsible for the following:

  1. Teach your child how to carefully and thoroughly check for ticks. Emphasize the importance of checking for ticks during/after spending time outdoors.
  2. Practice thorough tick checks at home with children so they are familiar with doing them.
  3. If you want your child to use a repellent, please make sure it is applied before you arrive at Wild Earth.
  4. And most importantly, do an ultra-thorough tick check with your children when they arrive home from Wild Earth.

We cannot stress how important a thorough full body tick check is when participants get home.

Minimizing the risk associated with tick bites requires quick detection!

Ultimately, we all need to be well informed. Below we have compiled a range of resources and recommendations on identification, preventing and treating tick bites.

Whether you opt for natural or synthetic repellents, we encourage every family to adopt a clear tick plan.

Together, we hope to keep the risk of tick borne illnesses as low as possible.

Tick Identification

The smallest ticks can be translucent and smaller than a poppy seed. Please refer to the tick ID charts and click the images to learn more from

Tick Bite Prevention

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

DEET, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.

Reduce your chances of getting a tickborne disease by using repellents, checking for ticks, and showering after being outdoors. If you have a tick bite followed by a fever or rash, seek medical attention.

Gardening, camping, hiking, and playing outdoors – when enjoying these activities, don’t forget to take steps to prevent bites from ticks that share the outdoors. Ticks can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness.

Before You Go Outdoors
  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaf litter or near shrubs. Always walk in the center of trails in order to avoid contact with ticks.
  • Products containing permethrin kill ticks. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
  • Use a repellent with DEET on skin. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth. For detailed information about using DEET on children, see recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • For detailed information about tick prevention and control, see Avoiding Ticks. Detailed information for outdoor workers can be found at NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Tick-borne Diseases.
After You Come Indoors
  • Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.
  • Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, which even includes your back yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
    • Under the arms
    • In and around the ears
    • Inside belly button
    • Back of the knees
    • In and around the hair
    • Between the legs
    • Around the waist

Ulster County Department of Health recommends:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors and check again once indoors.
  • Use insect repellent, according to label directions.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails.  Avoid contacting vegetation.
  • Shower soon after being outdoors (ideally within 2 hrs.)
  • To make checking for ticks easier, use a full-length mirror and a magnification mirror.
  • After returning from outdoors, place clothes in a dryer on high for 10 minutes.
  • Having an indoor/outdoor pet can increase household exposures to ticks. Consult a vet about the best tick prevention for your pet(s).
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Check everyone thoroughly for ticks, including pets, as soon as possible after being outdoors – and at the end of each day. Remove ticks promptly and properly.

Researcher Dr. Thomas Mather, Professor, University of Rhode Island recommends:

1) Treat your shoes with permethrin in May, June, July, August when ground-based nymph ticks are most active. (Learn more here about the safety of permethrin.)

2) Do a daily tick check with a mirror March – November (or whenever adult ticks are active).

3) Check below the belt, especially when nymph ticks are most active (in April, May, June, and July).

Watch this 1-hour presentation by Dr. Mather (aka “the tick guy”) about the latest research on tick control and ways to protect yourself.

Herbalist Ashley Sapir of Dreamkeeper Botanicals recommends:

Dressing for the occasion: When I know that I’ll be entering a place that ticks frequent (woods, meadow and tall grassy areas especially) I wear light colored clothing and tuck my pants into my boots. I also spray an herbal tick repellant onto my clothes and boots.

Returning home: Upon coming home, I do a preliminary check of myself and my companions. Next, I roll a sticky, adhesive lint roller over clothes and/or fur (of my animal friends) to pick up any hitch-hikers that were not obvious. Ideally clothes are left outside or in a garage in case anything was missed. Then tick check is repeated before bed, EVERY night during tick season, making sure to check hair, ears, eyebrows, lashes and all the nooks and crannies.

Acupuncturist Hillary Thing of Accord Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe recommends:

Following are recommended ways to avoid getting bit by ticks in the first place, short of staying indoors, which doesn’t seem to me like a very healthy solution. You might choose those options that work best for you.

  • Wear lightweight, long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks when gardening or hiking in known tick-infested places.
  • Wear light colored clothing so you are more likely to see a tick crawling on your clothes.
  • Pay attention to minor itches and crawling sensations on your skin – check it out to make sure it’s not a tick.
  • Wear natural insect repellent, such as Welcome To The Woods Insect Repellent in lotion or spray form. Apply it frequently, as in every couple of hours, if you are outside for an extended period of time.

Deet-based repellent is too toxic to be a valid option, especially for children, as are all chemical insecticides. The more we pollute our bodies and the planet, the more we will continue to make ourselves vulnerable to infinite iterations of chronic multi-pathogen, multi-system diseases, which is the nature of chronic Lyme disease. If you do get infected by Lyme, you are going to want your body to be as clean and alkaline on the inside as possible, not a toxic, acidic breeding ground for bacteria such as Borrelia, the spirochete that causes Lyme disease.

  • Once inside, remove all clothing and put them into the wash, and more importantly, dry them on high heat to kill any ticks that may be attached to them. Then take a shower if possible.
  • Check your body for ticks twice per day, especially the groin area, within the hairline of the head, and all around the torso where the body heat is higher.
  • Teach your children (by the age of 3 or 4 at the latest) how to identify a tick so that if they see one on their body or yours, they know to seek an adults’ assistance to remove it safely and swiftly.

Tick Removal

The right tools make all the difference!

Equip yourself with a magnifying glass, a mirror, and pair of pointy-tipped tweezers or a Tick Twister.
tick removal tools

Herbalist Ashley Sapir of Dreamkeeper Botanicals recommends:

If I find an attached tick, I remove it with a tweezers or tick twister. I keep a magnifying glass in my first aid kit for tick removal and recently bought my first pair of reading glasses that I break out for tick checks (safety over pride). The tick goes into a small jar or plastic bag in case I decide to send it off for testing.

Acupuncturist Hillary Thing of Accord Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe recommends:

Tick Removal

Many people follow all of the best practices to avoid getting bit by a tick, and still discover ticks on them in the act of latching on, or at some point in the feeding process. Yuck! So, what to do when you find a tick on your body?

  • Keep handy – in your medicine cabinet, car, camping gear, purse, etc. – a good pair of tick removal tweezers. My favorite come in a kit from Mainely Ticks because they have a small magnifying glass attached to them, so you can see what you’re doing when trying to remove even the tiny nymph ticks, and the heads, which brings me to my next point.
  • The key to successful, safe tick removal is removing the tick by its head, which is where it has embedded itself into your skin. The trick is to grab hold of the head of the tick, not the body, as you might pull off the body and leave the head behind, which may be strongly attached into the skin. Slide one side of the tweezers under the head of the tick, and peel the head and body of the tick up and away.
  • If the tick body is engorged and you were able to remove it in one piece, you may want to send it to a lab to find out if the tick was carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease, in which case you’ll want to preserve the tick in a plastic Ziploc (keep these handy with your tweezers).

Tick Bite Treatments

Herbalist Ashley Sapir of Dreamkeeper Botanicals recommends:

After the tick is removed, I look carefully both at the tick and the bite area to make sure all parts have been removed and drop echinacea tincture directly onto the bite. I saturate a small piece of cotton with echinacea tincture and use a bandaid to keep it on. Every six hours I re-apply a new echinacea soaked cotton for a total of twenty four hours. At the same time taking echinacea tincture internally. I also take a dose of homeopathic ledum once, and then again twelve hours later.

Immune support: This is the time to call on all your immune supporting favorites such as echinacea, garlic, astragalus, propolis and vitamin C. For the first three or four days I like to take these herbs in pretty high doses. I’m also mindful of what I’m eating, trying to avoid processed foods and especially sugar. There is lots of research that the tick-borne diseases and all infections thrive on sugar. I continue to take the immune protective herbs in smaller doses for the next few weeks. Sleep and self care become more of a priority (let’s face it, that’s no easy task and sometimes takes a backseat but now’s the time to bring it back on the table in a big way).

Monitoring the situation: It’s so important to use observation and intuition in these situations. If anything funny happens such as a rash, headaches, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes or joints it’s time to reach out to a professional. This is a time to stay in touch with your chosen health care providers (physician, naturopath, herbalist, acupuncturist, etc. or any combination). Antibiotics may play a part in your protocol for combatting any initial stage infection and are most effective when combined with herbs.

I hope these ideas help bolster your tick care toolbelt. It’s the summarized version and we can definitely talk more.

Acupuncturist Hillary Thing of Accord Acupuncture & Herb Shoppe recommends:

Treatment of the tick bite to prevent Lyme disease
  • After removing the tick, unless it was barely attached to the skin at all, you’ll want to put clove essential oil directly onto the skin, and all around the surrounding area, well beyond the circle of redness at the bite.

If the Borellia spirochete enters your body, it remains initially superficial in the tissue layers of the skin at first. The clove oil is absorbed into the layers of the skin and is a powerful antibiotic and anti-spirochete agent. This is much more effective than washing the bite with soap or alcohol, as is often recommended.

Based on my personal and clinical experience, the prompt use of clove oil is the #1 way to reduce incidence of Lyme disease from a tick bite, even one that looks very angry and infected. Within 12-24 hours, the redness, swelling, itching, and rash is greatly diminished. My family and patients have used this technique 100’s of times, and I’ve never known a tick bite that was treated with clove oil to lead to Lyme disease. Be sure to continue applying the clove oil twice per day until all signs of infection and irritation from the bite have cleared.

Other Natural Prophylactic Measures
  • Take an immune system booster such as Echinacea tincture, which activates your acute immune response against pathogenic invaders such as bacteria and viruses (including Borrelia spirochetes).
  • Take an Anti-Lyme Herbal Formula. If you do get bit by a tick and it was on you long enough to carry a threat of Lyme disease, then getting herbs into your bloodstream that kill the spirochete and make your body inhospitable ahead of time, is a smart way to head off the potential for infection to develop.
  • Take extra measures to alkalize your blood (like drinking water with lemon, and green vegetable juices), strengthen your immune system (by getting enough rest, for example) and minimize intake of bacteria-feeding sugar, white flours, and alcohol.

Tick Testing and Other Resources

The University of Rhode Island’s Tick Encounter Resource Center provides a great collection of information about testing, Permethrin FAQ, and more.

Continuing Your Tick Education

Want to learn tick borne illnesses, symptoms and solutions? Check out this 2-hour presentation in which Dr. Richard Horowitz, MD. discusses trends in Lyme & Tick-borne Diseases.

Even more information is available in our Resources for Lyme Awareness from our blog.

Simon AbramsonSimon AbramsonSimon Abramson,

As a child Simon spent countless hours exploring the forest, streams and wetlands of his neighborhood in NJ. Simon has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont where he focused on the relationship between a healthy human psyche and a vibrant natural world. He has staffed and studied with various wilderness schools throughout the Northeast including the Institute for Natural Learning, White Pine Programs and the Vermont Wilderness School. When he’s not in the woods, Simon is designing and building websites and other internet solutions. More about Simon's work.

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