More and more these days you hear about people finding ticks on their pets and themselves.  How can you protect yourself from them?

I was born and raised in Western New York and in almost 40 years I hadn't ever (not even once) seen a tick in real life.  I had seen the pictures and heard the awful stories, but hadn't ever actually come in contact with one.  I mean, I used to play outside - all day, every day when I was a kid.  I played in fields, creeks, and lawns.  How did I avoid seeing even one?

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I was pretty shocked a couple of years ago when I came across my first.  I must have looked pretty good to one.  I was outside all day cleaning up and getting ready for company.  Then when I laid down to go to bed that evening, I felt a little tickle on the inside of my knee as if some kind of bug was scurrying across my skin.  As I looked down, I saw a bug that looked a little like a spider...but the strangest spider ever.  It was my wife Brandi who picked it out as a tick first.

This one looked like a wood tick to me.  Not much of a danger.  It's deer ticks that you really need to look out for.  But hey, if there's one, there's always a chance of more.

(Photo by Brett Alan)
Wood tick

Luckily, it didn't even bite me.  It was just sitting there on my leg.  I had no idea how little they could be.  Check out this tweet from the CDC:

So how do you avoid having them on you?

1.  Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, walk in the center of trails.

2.  Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.

3.  Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you

4.  Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.  Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs

5.  Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.

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