tick

Ticks are a carrier of a multitude of deadly diseases including Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever and Lyme's Disease.

Illustration by Manami Kimura

Coastal British Columbia has no poisonous snakes, deadly spiders or scorpions and plants like poison ivy or poison oak are rare. We do however have ticks. These blood-sucking arachnids are a carrier of a multitude of deadly diseases including Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever and Lyme's Disease.

At the end of each day pause for a moment to check your body, particularly the hairy bits, for any unusual protrusions. Get a buddy to survey your back. Ticks may vary from pin head size to the size of a huckleberry when engorged with blood.

Spring and early summer see the greatest numbers of ticks but their presence is certainly not limited to this time of year.

The best way to remove a tick is with a pair of inexpensive tick pliers. Outdoor stores carry them. Tweezers will work as well. Do not squeeze the body of the tick, you will only inject more deadly microbes into the wound. Cradle the tick lightly at the neck, below the body and pry up gently, levering against your skin. Doing so may take some time but the tick finds this mild pressure unpleasant and will eventually unclench its mouth parts. Save the tick in a container for medical analysis upon returning to civilization.

Not all ticks carry contagion but the severity of associated diseases make precaution worthwhile. The same kind of preventative measures that work against mosquitos will also limit your exposure to tick bites. Insect repellent and long pants and sleeves will all help keep the critters away.

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