How to Avoid Ticks

How to avoid ticks
Elzbieta Sekowska/ShutterstockYou can’t always avoid ticks but you can follow these measures to prevent bites.

The best defense against tick-borne disease is a good offense. Here’s how to avoid ticks in the first place.

1. Treat Your Shoes and Clothes with Permethrin
Ticks die quickly when they come into contact with this powerful toxin. You can apply it yourself with over-the-counter sprays and washin treatments (be sure to closely follow application instructions) or purchase pretreated clothing from companies such as Insect Shield. Treating your footwear, in particular, is one of the most effective defenses against tick nymphs, which commonly lurk in leaf litter on the forest floor.

2. Use DEET
This common insect repellent is proven to ward off ticks. The science isn’t fully settled on the effectiveness of other repellents, including picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

3. Wear Light-Colored Clothing and Tuck it in
Ticks are dark and much easier to spot when they contrast with light fabrics. Tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks from climbing out of sight inside your pant legs.

4. Check Yourself Regularly
Perform frequent body checks of yourself (and your kids and dogs) any time you’re out in potential tick country. Pay particular attention to the warm, moist corners below the waist where ticks love to hide.

Tick Mythbusters

What Works

  • Dryness. Ticks require moisture to survive and will rapidly desiccate and die in dry conditions. Run tick-exposed clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes on high and crisp’em to death.
  • Permethrin. Ticks die within 30 seconds once exposed to this potent toxin. (See number 1, above).
  • Crushing. You’ll need two hard, sharp objects to crush a tick to death. It’s very satisfying.

What Doesn’t 

  • Heat. Ticks can withstand high temperatures.
  • Water. Ticks can survive a hot-water run through the washing machine.
  • Winter. Ticks simply bury themselves in the ground when frosty weather arrives and wait for warmer conditions to return.


About the Author…

Matt Heid


Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.

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