Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ticks..Bugs from hell

When you think about dangerous animals that you can encounter during a hiking or camping trip you often think about bears, wolves or even tigers and jaguars in some parts of the world. But sometimes dangerous animals are a lot smaller and one of the animals that should be high on the list of dangerous animals  is the Tick.. after you have read this you'll probably never judge dangerous wildlife by it's size again.

The risks of a tick bite

When we think about ticks we immediately think about Lyme decease but it's just one of many diseases ticks can carry. Others are Anaplasmosis, Rocky mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, Colorado tick fever, Tularemia, Q fever and Tick paralysis.. There are even rumors that back in the dark ages not only rats but also ticks were spreading the Plague.

Recognizing a Tick

Ticks are small parasites that feed on the blood of humans and other animals. They attach themselves to the skin and because they are so small they may go unnoticed for some time, increasing the chances of spreading disease. During feeding, they can transmit bacteria, viruses or parasites. Disease transmission is most common in the spring and summer months.
Believe it or not.. the 2 ticks here are from the same species. The one on the right is at normal size, the one on the left has been feeding itself for a while.

Treating a Tick bite

Some people will tell you to either poor vinegar or alcohol on the tick and the tick will just let go... If only it was that easy, I'm sorry to say that this is just a urban myth. Alcohol might kill the tick but then it would still be stuck in your skin with all it's potential deceases. Vinegar might help to clean the wound or infection after the tick is removed.
Also burning a tick does not help.
The best way to remove a tick is with fine tipped tweezers, you grab the tick as close to it's mouth as possible the you slowly pull the tick out without twisting it. Some people grab the tick by it's body.. Don't ever do that! you might squeeze the the infected fluids from the ticks into your skin.
When the tick is removed it might be best to visit a doctor just in case. Bringing the tick with you in a ziplock bag is also not a bad idea so it can be examined in a lab.

How to avoid getting bitten

Avoid walking through tall grasses and busches as much as you can. so ticks can't get on your cloths and travel to your skin. Put the ends of your pants in your socks and check yourself and your clothing for ticks afterwards. When you're in the outdoors try to stay on the paths as much as possible.

Is there a real reason to panic?

No not really. We all know that ticks carry diseases and that they are hard to get rid off. What most people do not tell you however is that most ticks (maybe more then 90%) do Not carry any form of decease. Still of course it's better to be safe then sorry. And most of all the deceases listed above can be cured with common antibiotics. It is also good to know that most of the stories of people dying due to tick bites are usually just that... stories.. it's pretty rare


  1. when I was a young kid me my brother and sister would play in the woods all day. so every night my mom would hold us down and look through are hear while my dad would burn the ticks with his cigar, we would have dozens of ticks on us daily. we never had any diseases, and burning them seem to work just fine. I guess he would burn the tick just a nuff so the tick would back out of your skin then kill it.

    1. So burning does work?
      I have always been told that when you burn them they may die but stay attached to your skin which may cause infection..
      Good to know ;)

  2. Eat garlic! ....I lived in the Sardinian countryside for a number of years, and we were always infested with ticks. The only time a ever had ticks on me though, was when I initially moved there and hadn't started eating garlic. Also mosquitos, midges, lice, fleas, and a number of other critters won't bother you. You might also distance people if you don't live in a garlic eating country!


    1. I knew eating garlic would keep mosquitos away but this is totally new to me. Well you never stop learning.
      Thank you for the tip :)

  3. So how will you handle these ticks when you're out there yourself?

    1. The same way I think. I will bring tweezers with me if I get bit but most of all I'll be trying to avoid them in the first place. But if you're out in the woods 24/7 that might turn into a losing battle :)

    2. You might find wild garlic! Other solutions are Peppermint oil, Orange oil, Eucalyptus oil, Tea tree oil, Neem oil and probably others. Our ancestors usually discovered answers to these problems by observing nature and finding what these parasites didn't like. Tree saps and plant juices being the usual ones to investigate first.

    3. Wild garlic sounds like a great idea, easily recognizable and I think I will encounter it alot in northern and east europe.

      But about the oils.. I have no idea at this moment how to extract oils from plants in the wild. I have seen images on how the greeks created olive oil but other then that I'm clueless. I will look into it since some oils can be very important for cooking, lightning and woodworking too

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