Winter is melting into the warm days of spring. I love the emergence of wildflowers and the fresh, cool air that the season brings. The warmer temperatures awaken more than daffodils, however. Ticks, spiders, chiggers, and other creepy crawlies are also ready to spring forth. Everyone who spends time outdoors may want to review these tips to help avoid bites from ticks and other creepy crawlies.
Ways to avoid ticks and other buggy pests
The two ingredients found in most insecticide sprays for humans are either DEET or permethrin. Both have been tested and found to be safe, with some precautions.
- DEET. Carefully follow directions for application. Do not ingest! DEET can have a fragrance. If you’re a hunter, you may want to explore a DEET-free product like this one. It’s fragrance-free and can be applied to every family member without harm.
- Permethrin. This synthetic compound is used as a medicated lotion to treat head lice, nits, and more. It can also be used in spray form to treat clothing, backpacks, and other gear to ward off insects. Avoid getting permethrin on your skin unless it’s been formulated specifically for that use. Otherwise, skin irritations or a rash may develop.
RVers, hikers, and anyone else who spends time outdoors know that flies, ticks, mites, chiggers, and all of their other little insect buddies can quickly ruin a good time. Thank goodness there are ways to combat insect interruptions.
- Insect-repellent clothing. You can purchase clothing that is specially made to repel insects. Companies offering these products claim that their specially treated shirts, pants, and other items will continually protect you for as many as 70 washings. As an alternative, you can purchase permethrin clothing spray here. Before you head out for your hike or a day of fishing, follow the directions and spray your clothing and shoes for protection.
- Light-colored clothes. If you wear light-colored clothing, you’ll stay a bit cooler because lighter colors tend to reflect the sun’s rays. More importantly, you’ll notice ticks and other insects more quickly than if you’re wearing dark-colored clothes.
- Long sleeves. Keep arms covered for protection. Consider wrapping duct tape around your shirt cuffs if the area is highly infected with ticks or other insects.
- Pants and socks. Long pants offer better protection than shorts or capris. Plus, you can tuck the bottom of your pants into your socks for even more protection. (Or use duct tape as mentioned above.)
- Boots and hats. It’s a good idea to treat your hat and boots with a DEET or permethrin spray. It will repel insects that fall from trees as well as those crawling on the ground.
- Backpack. If you take a backpack or a hydration pack, you’ll want to treat it for protection from insects, too. Avoid treating the hydration mouthpiece, of course.
- Tent. If an outdoor overnight is part of your plan, be sure to spray DEET or permethrin on your tent. Also, consider treating your camping chairs and other gear that will be outside.
How you choose to utilize your outside time will determine how vulnerable you may be to insects and their potentially harmful bites. Taking the previous advice will certainly help, but here are a few additional tips.
- Follow trails. If you stay on maintained trails, you’ll likely confront fewer insects. Scrambling through brush and tall vegetation is an invitation for trouble.
- Check with authorities. Ask a forest ranger or your RV host about insect infestation warnings in the area. Stay out of infested locations.
- De-bug clothing. After your outside activities end, place your clothing into the clothes dryer. Use a hot temperature setting, which should kill ticks and other creepy crawlies. Carefully check shoes or boots for clinging insects, as well.
- After check. Always, always check yourself for ticks and insect bites after your time outdoors. Ask a friend to check your hair, back, neck, and any body part you cannot clearly see. Also, thoroughly check your children and dog for ticks and bites, if they accompany you into the woods. Because ticks, mites, spiders, and other insects can drop off clothing and shoes, it’s important to carefully check carpets and floors inside the RV, too.
Note: If you suspect you’ve been bitten, or if a bite looks at all suspicious, contact a doctor. Don’t wait. Medication, especially for tick bites, is best taken as soon as possible.
Can you add tips for avoiding ticks and other insects while RVing? Do so in the comments below.
- Video: Camping and ticks: What RVers need to know
- Be tick aware: The three types of ticks most likely to bite you
Buy Scope Mouth Wash put it in a small $ spray bottle. Did this for ten years while traveling to Guatemala and it worked still doing in Alabama on the Farm.
Thanks for the seasonal heads-up reminders! Also thanks for posting your picture! Always nice to see who we are reading from….. errr something like that.
Summer of “21” we lost our beautiful 1 1/2 year old Bengal girl Taffy from what the vet was sure was bobcat tic fever with a 85% mortality rate. It was prevalent in MO, where we live and MI IA WI and MN, where we had been traveling the 2 weeks before. She was only outside on a leash a few times in short grass near our sites, and we never saw a tic on her. She loved traveling with us and her best friend Boaz our Sheltie. She had been treated with appropriate preventative meds as well. Check yourself and pets is good advice.
Why no mention of picaridin? Appears to be as effective as DEET, but does not interact/break down plastics the way DEET does. Also, appears to be less toxic. I’ve used picaridin successfully for years. Some formulations are oily. However one of the most famous insect repellent brands has a picaridin formulation that is not oily.
Appreciate the idea to spray my backpack and tent, thank you.
From what I have read, one should not spray DEET on tents or other waterproofed materials as it can chemically break down the waterproofing. It appears that Permethrin does not do that. Before spraying anything on such items, check labels and directions.
Permethrin is a little scary. It is a neurotoxin. Be careful in its application and keep the product out of the reach of children. N.I.H. studies have found “…Biomarker concentrations in studies involving wear of treated clothing have been reported as 100–200 times higher than U.S. general population.” This means it transfers to skin and is absorbed. In addition, “permethrin has been classified by the EPA as a potential carcinogen…”
Keep permethrin AWAY from cats! It can be deadly.
The military and N.I.H. have done extensive testing. It is interesting reading.
Thanks for this information, Spike.
Major disaster if the tiny Lone Star tick bites you. They carry Alfa-gal (sp?). Once infected with this, it changes your digestion significantly. No more mammal-based food. A fin and feather diet is yours forever.
Lone Star tick is mostly located in the Southeastern States.
Thank you, Gail!
I would use Gaffer tape instead of duct tape.