How can you protect yourself from ticks while hunting? Hunters are always going into tick-invested areas, and most hunters wear dark camouflage clothes. Hunters are around animals that attract ticks. As well, hunters spend time in grasses, woods, fields, river bottoms and mountains – all places that are filled with ticks.
How many types of ticks are there in the United States?
There are two families of ticks in the United States: hard ticks (Ixodidae) and soft ticks (Argasidae). We were shocked to learn that there are 700 species of hard ticks and 200 species of soft ticks found across the world. Over the past couple of decades there has been a population explosion of ticks across North America.
A hard tick starts out as an egg, then hatches into a larva that needs to find and feed on a small host (bird or mammal). After feeding, it drops to the ground, molts and emerges as a nymph. As a nymph, a hard tick then finds a larger host, feeds and then drops off and molts again to become an adult. Hard ticks offer painless bites and can feed on a host for hours, days or weeks depending on the species. Hard ticks can live one to two years.
A soft tick begins as an egg, hatches into a larva, feeds and molts into a nymph. Nymph soft ticks require blood meals and can go through up to seven phases of growth. Soft ticks live for from several months to several years. Soft ticks bite and hold on for much shorter periods of time lasting 15-30 minutes.
Both soft and hard ticks are capable of transmitting disease. At this time, the United States is seeing higher numbers of infections from nymphal ticks versus the adult ticks. Ticks to be aware of include American Dog Tick, Blacklegged Deer Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Groundhog Tick, Lone Star Tick, Pacific Coast Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, Soft Ticks, and finally the Western Blacklegged Tick.
What diseases or pathogens do ticks spread?
Depending on the variety, ticks can transmit a wide variety of pathogens all of which are bad for humans. Diseases include, but are not limited to, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, tick paralysis, Borrelia burgdorferi (the agent of Lyme disease), Borrelia mayonii (which causes a Lyme-like illness), Borrelia miyamotoi and Borrelia hermsii (that both cause relapsing fever Borreliosis), Deer Tick Virus, Powassan virus, Q Fever, Rickettsiosis, HME, Heartland Virus, Bourbon Virus, STARI (similar to Lyme Disease), Colorado Tick Fever Virus, Tick-borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF), Babesiosis, HGA and more. Of course, many ticks do not carry any pathogens to humans, but it is impossible to know when you encounter a tick.
May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month. During this month and all months, do everything you can to avoid ticks of all kinds throughout the United States.
How to Prevent Tick Bites?
For hunters, we recommend a combination of repellent put together by Ranger Ready in the P2 Pak. (Full Disclosure: Ranger Ready is a sponsor for 2021 of HuntingLife.com). The P2 Pak contains a bottle of Permethrin and a bottle of Picaridin to create a one-two punch to fight ticks, mosquitoes and other biting insects. This combination provides a safe alternative and a non-Deet solution to protecting your family, your pets and yourself from ticks and mosquitoes.
Permethrin is an insecticide in the pyrethoid family designed to attach to clothing and fabric that is worn. Permethrin is a synthetic chemical that acts like the natural extract from the chrysanthemum flower, and it kills insect upon contact. Use Permethrin to treat clothing and gear. A 0.5% solution lasts up to 40 days or 5 washes on your clothing. We recommend covering all clothing and shoes with Permethrin. When hunting, we cover our boots, socks, underwear and thermals as well as all outerwear, hats and gloves.
Picaradin is a synthetic compound that is derived from the compound Piperine, naturally created from the group of plants that produce black pepper. Picaradin was created in the 1980’s by German scientists looking to create a safe alternative to DEET. Picaridin is safe for the skin of children who have celebrated their first birthday and all adults. Ranger Ready Picaridin is a 20% solution and provides an effective solution to protect exposed skin for up to 12 hours of mosquito and tick protection. Picaridin is NOT a neurotoxin or plasticizer like DEET, which means that it keeps your body and your gear safe from harm. Picaridin 20% offers 12 hours from a wide variety of pests including ticks, mosquitos, biting flies, sand flies, gnats, chiggers, no-see-ums and midges. The EPA has officially registered Picaridin and stated “EPA registration of skin-applied repellent products indicates that they have been evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label. Our evaluation includes assuring that the product does not pose risks to vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women.”
How can hunters prevent tick bites?
We recommend Ranger Ready Scent Zero P2 Pak for all hunters. It offers the right protection in all climates and weather conditions. Permethrin goes on all clothing, packs, socks, underwear, thermals and outerwear. We also spray this on all dog beds, dog blankets and on the seats in our vehicles. We have a set regiment of refreshing this spray on our outdoor gear and clothing every three days to ensure that our gear is covered. Any fabric that is being worn, including underwear, is treated with Scent Zero Permethrin. When we get out of the vehicle our first step before putting on outerwear is a full spray down with Scent Zero Picaridin on exposed skin which covers our protection for a full 12 hours. Scent Zero protection allows us to have full protection of Permethrin and Picaridin and to hunt deer during archery season absolutely scentless. When we get back to our vehicle, outerwear goes into a black garbage bag and all clothes get a solid 30 minutes on high in the dryer upon returning home and a warm soapy shower concludes our day.
There really is no need to get bitten by ticks in the outdoors with the level of protection available today from the Ranger Ready Scent Zero P2 Pak. The real key is diligence in that protection and knowing that you have the coverage available to you to keep yourself safe. The important step for every hunter regardless of location across North America is utilizing the sprays to protect yourself against ticks and the pathogens they carry.