Who do you not want to meet in the woods? Bears, Cougars, Sasquatch? How about the Tick?!

The western Black Leg tick on Vancouver Island has eight legs, the female colours are red and black while the male is black and smaller.

This tick hangs out on low lying grass and other vegetation mostly in the open canopy of the woods. The tick waits for a host to walk near, then grabs on to the host. Vancouver Island has ticks out in the wood most of the year with January to February and May to July as the main tick seasons. This can vary depending on the weather and possibly the animal population. There is also talk that climate change affects ticks environment for the better.

It is a good idea to perform a tick check on yourself or have another person do the check as they can check you over more effectively. Putting hiking clothes in the dryer after a hike for around 20 minutes on high heat should kill any tick on your clothes by drying the tick out as tick prefer warm moist environment. The washing machine won’t kill them.

It is recommended to wear light colour clothing to make tick detection easier, tucking pants into socks and long sleeves shirts along with a hat. There is information out there that have tested the light versus dark clothing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16051573.

Most tick removal advice tells you to use narrow ended tweezers to grasp the tick horizontally across the skin as close to the mouth as possible and pull straight up. The tick tools such as Tick Twister tell you to slide the tool slot around the tick, pull up slightly and twist to remove the tick. I have successfully used the Tick Twister many times to remove ticks from humans and dogs. The Coghlan tick tool works as well but loses its strength to grip ticks after a season of removing ticks.

After the tick is removed it can be disposed of or kept in a ziplock in the freezer in case the tick needs to be tested for disease. Clean the wound site with warm soapy water or rubbing alcohol. Watch the site for any further complications such as swelling, infection in the form of a bullseye and flu-like symptoms.

Keeping to the hiking trails will help minimize tick exposure and keep the surrounding woods intact to be view and enjoy by all hikers.

CTV reports that Consumer Reports found products that contain 15 to 30 percent deet, 20 percent Picardin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus were effective at repelling ticks.