Related to the hot weather field work attire, …

Related to the hot weather field work attire, how do you dress and manage things like ticks when you're outdoors? I really want to go outside more and take walks in the woods and experience it all for myself, but I'm so terrified of ticks that it's preventing me from doing so. I love inverts, I keep many myself, but ticks make me extremely nervous and I've had a lot of bad experiences witj them. What do you suggest about this?

The long pants/long sleeves is my primary defense against ticks/chiggers. There are lots of other ways you can reduce your risk for them.

Things you can do to specifically avoid ticks, etc:

  • Long pants, tucked into your shoes or socks so nothing can climb up your pant leg.
  • Going a step further: long pants, tucked into tall socks (mid-calf or knee high), with knee-high boots OR leg gaiters (gaiters are tubes you would put over the opening of your boots, typically to keep snow out BUT you can make your own, and use them for tick prevention.
  • Spray your clothes with insecticide. Permethrin will stay on your clothes for weeks after several washes. Treat your clothes and let them dry before wearing them.
  • Spray/dust your legs/ankles with DEET/sulphur right before getting on the trail
  • Ticks and chiggers live in tall grasses. Stay on trail or avoid contact with tall grasses.
  • After your hike, inspect your clothing for ticks and remove any you find. Consider keeping spare clothes you can change into after the hike.
  • Go home as soon after your hike as you can. Take off your clothes, throw them in the laundry, and take a hot shower. Scrub down as best as you can.

For what it’s worth, I have never seen a tick. In Central Texas, the fire ants have essentially eradicated them. But, we DO have chiggers and oh no they are HORRIBLE. Chiggers are mites, closely related to ticks. Their larval form is parasitic and microscopic (you can’t see them). They don’t carry disease (that I know of) but the itching is THE WORST THING EVER.

Chigger Facts:

  • So smol. Latch onto your clothing as you walk around in nature.
  • Wander around your clothes for hours until they find a way in.
  • So smol they can squeeze in through socks/waistbands.
  • Wander around your body for hours looking for a nice, tight, warm spot to feed. Favorites are your inner thighs, ankles, armpits, and the back of your knees.
  • Spit out a fluid that digests your skin cells, which they slurp up (you cannot feel this)
  • Wander off, go on their merry way, so long, farewell.
  • Hours later, your body develops a foreign body reaction in response to the digestive fluid and ITCHING EVERYWHERE COMMENCES
  • By the time you start itching (usually the next day), it’s too late and there’s nothing you can do—the mite is long gone.

Usually, after several hours of hiking, most of the chiggers you’ve picked up are still on your clothes looking for a way in. The looser fitting your clothes, the better. Leggings are not a good idea unless your hike is relatively short and you can change quickly after—they like tight spaces, and when you wear leggings, your entire leg is a tight space.

If you pick up a couple chigger bites, it’s not that bad. But if you don’t take any precautions, hike through tall grass in leggings and no insecticide, then go about your business the rest of the day, not changing until right before bed, and skip that night’s shower… you will have hundreds of the itchiest welts all over your entire body and you will quickly go insane from the itching. Ask me how I know! (I’m from Seattle… we don’t have ticks or chiggers in Seattle… I learned my lesson real quick).

Posted June 10, 2018