I have wonderful memories of wandering through the coulees in Southern Alberta with my grandma when I was little. The brown grass turning to green in the Spring... picking berries for homemade pies... swishing through the long grass. Not so fond are the memories of searching for ticks! As a child I didn't quite understand why we did this so faithfully after our walks. As a mama (and after a bit of reading) I now completely understand why it's vital to check for ticks after being outside with your kids.
Read on to learn a few important facts about ticks and how to avoid them this year.
Quick Tick Facts
Ticks can be nasty little critters! Ticks are actually little spiders, not insects. They are about the size of a poppy seed and are dark in colour.
Ticks are on a quest! They hold on to a blade of grass and latch onto a "host" as it walks by (which is called "questing"). Most people think of long grass and fields when they think of ticks, but they can also hide around the yard and in the garden so it's important to check for them after being outside regardless of the activity.
Once they have latched onto a host (you or your kids! Ugh!) they need to be removed or they can cause serious illness. For a simple explanation and visual on how to remove ticks, you can visit the CDC or watch this video by the University of Manitoba. As mentioned in the video, be sure not to simply squish it or brush the tick off- it must be plucked off the skin using tweezers, pliers or a special removal tool.
5 Ways to Avoid Tick Bites this Summer
Here are some simple ways to avoid tick bites:
1. Cover up! Wear your MyMayu boots and light-coloured clothing and/or clothing treated with tick repellents. This makes it more difficult for the ticks to latch onto skin in the first place and, if they do, to see them.
So... you can do this:
OR use our boots!
2. Use a tick repellent such as Permethrin. You can even spray your MyMayu boots with tick repellent. If you are adverse to synthetic/chemical solutions, you can try a natural one such as this one using garlic, neem oil and citrus. Deet is also often recommended, but its efficacy is questionable.
3. Put your clothes in the dryer after being outside. High heat kills the ticks but a bath through the washing machine does not. Don't let your clothes sit in the hamper too long! (As if we need more laundry woes, right??!!!)
4. When hiking, stay near the center of the trail. Who am I kidding? Children want to explore! All the more reason to do a full inspection after hiking or playing outside. Be sure to check around the ears, behind the knees, in arm pits and on the scalp.
5. Keep the grass cut in your yard and clear it of old, dead leaves and other stuff. (Note to self- do some yard work!)
6. Bonus one from Stefanie: Eat Black Caraway seeds! (And or put Black Caraway oil on your skin)!
There's no need to avoid playing outside because of ticks, but checking your body for these nasty critters and taking some simple steps to avoid their bite can make the summer much more enjoyable.