6 Ways to Avoid Tick Bites While Summer Hiking

Summer is here, and that means it is hiking season. Before setting out on your first summer hike, learn how to avoid tick bites, which is a disgusting truth about hiking during the summer months.

Ticks are small insects that can burrow into the skin and suck the blood of the host, whether it be a hiker, deer, dog or other mammals and birds. Now ticks are not only pesky but also can carry dangerous diseases that could infect the host.

tick on piece of grass

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Ticks typically live in warm and humid climates. Therefore, that is why they are found strictly during the summer months in some regions. Also, ticks love grassy areas. Some ticks will hang out on the edge of long grasses and cling on to hosts that pass through the grass. This is how hikers contract a tick bite.

Below are six ways to avoid the nasty reality of a tick bite. For hikers that live in areas where diseases from ticks are more a risk, then these six preventive measure should become second nature during summer hiking.


1. Wear the Right Clothes

Photo credit: Brian W. Tobin via Flickr

Clothing matters when it comes to avoiding tick bites. Although it is summer, it is very important to wear long sleeves shirts and pants. There are a number of lightweight, long sleeve hiking shirts and pants on the market that are perfect for summer. Besides wearing long sleeves and pants, make sure to also wear light-colored clothing. The ticks are easier to see against light-colored clothes. Also, closed-toe footwear should be second nature. Wearing hiking sandals exposes your skin to tick bites. If you are in serious tick country, tucking your shirt into your pants and tucking your pants into your socks is a great option to avoid tick bites. Lightweight gaiters can also be worn to prevent ticks from crawling inside your pants.


2. Avoid Grassy Areas

Photo credit: ActiveSteve via Flickr

Stay on the trail, especially if you are in a grassy area, to avoid tick bites. As mentioned before, ticks thrive in grasses. Therefore, always be aware if you must get off trail or travel in a heavily grassy area. One of the ways tick bites happen is when hikers pull away from the trail to go to the bathroom. Try to choose a spot that is not grassy. Also if you are hiking with dogs, keep them on a leash if the hike is around grassy areas. This will protect your dog from getting a tick bite.

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3. Wear Repellent

Off! Mosquito and Tick Insect bug Repellent with DEET by Mike Mozart

Photo credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr

Repellent is a great thing to use to avoid tick bites. Now some hiking clothes can be bought with Permethrin, an insect repellent, already treated with it. There is some discussion on if DEET is an effective tick repellent. DEET is worth using, however Permethrin is more effective for preventing tick bites. Permethrin actually kills bugs that land on treated clothes, versus DEET which simply repels them.

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4. Stay in the Sun

Sunny Hill by ArtBrom

Photo credit: ArtBrom via Flickr

When you are choosing the perfect spot to have your lunch, try to avoid grassy, shady areas. Tick nymphs have outer covers that lose moisture quickly. Therefore they cannot be in direct sunlight for long. The sun may be hot, but it is a place to reduce the risk of tick exposure and tick bites.

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5. Check for Ticks Frequently

tick on skin

Photo credit: Penn State via Flickr

To prevent tick bites, check for ticks often while hiking. Do keep in mind that ticks vary in size; they can be bigger or as small as a pen tip. Once you get to your campsite or back to the trailhead, do a full body inspection from head to toe. If you have a hiking partner, make sure they check your scalp, back and underarms where ticks like to hide. For ticks that are stuck to your clothing, a lint roller comes in handy taking them off. Remember that ticks will survive a rinse and dry cycle in a washing machine. Therefore it is best that you get them off our clothing first.

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6. Take Action at Home

backpack outside

Photo credit: kooikkari via Flickr

Even if you think you got all the ticks off your gear and clothing, it is best to still take preventative action at home. Leave your backpack outside. And before throwing your clothes in your dirty laundry bin or the washer, fill a tub with water and put your clothes in. Ticks will float to the top.

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How do you avoid tick bites during the summer time? Tell us your recommendations in the comments below!

Madison Dragna

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Madison Dragna

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