Sep 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm #1307814
I was reading a copy of Backpacking mag today; it had an article of the number of people killed each year by type of animal or insect (in the US? North America?). The biggest "killer" in the wilds, by a long shot, was ticks (lyme disease). What gear can be used, what measures do YOU take (or can be taken) against ticks? I'm interested to hear a discussion on the relative effectiveness of:
long vs. short pants,
high vs. low socks,
permethrin vs. DEET vs. Picaridin vs. whatever
self-inspections (do you get naked enough in the backcountry to do a thorough self exam? Can you see/find them?)
trail vs. bushwhacking
flyswatter vs. shotgun
etc.Sep 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm #2026249
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Live in the PNW, like me. Very few ticks here. I think I might have seen one my whole life. That was over on the high divide loop in the Olympics, and it was lazily crawling on my bag on the ground so I squished it.
But permethrin should do the trick on clothes, and I use 3M Ultrathon DEET cream on exposed parts.
But, I've got almost no experience with ticks so, hopefully somebody from Tickville, USA will be able to chime in soon.Sep 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm #2026252
Long pants and long sleeves treated with permethrin. I do my socks and shoes too. No ticks in two years since I started doing this. works for me.Sep 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm #2026255
Worldwide would be the mosquito.
"The WHO estimates that in 2010 there were 219 million cases of malaria resulting in 660,000 deaths, equivalent to roughly 2000 deaths every day."Sep 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm #2026257
You are right John. I need to modify my original post to specify USA — I think the article I read was USA specific although I can't swear to it, it might have been North American continent.
Is there any wisdom in getting the taller crew length socks, rather than the shorties? Or would that be pretty much all the same to a tick? Does anybody permethrin their socks?Sep 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm #2026258
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Gaiters to seal up the bottom of your pants.Sep 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm #2026266
The area I am in is prime tick territory and they do carry lime here.
Rather than treating clothing myself multiple times a year (the Sawyer stuff is only good for a few washings or a few weeks…) I sent my favorite trekking items to Insect Shield for "permanent" permethrin treatment. It seems to be working as I have seen bugs craw up my pants and start to die. The cost is very reasonable compared to buying all new Insect Shield apparel and it can be your favorite items. Supposedly good for ~70 washings.
The only thing that cannot be treated are things that already have a DWR or need dry cleaned.
I did have two pair of socks treated and have had no ill effects.Sep 19, 2013 at 5:25 pm #2026269
"Does anybody permethrin their socks?"
I do. I permethrin my shirt, pants, and socks. If I'm wearing gaiters I'll treat them too. I use the spray on stuff from Sawyer, but Ryan's got me intrigued about sending them for a semi-permanent treatment. Didn't know you could do that.Sep 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm #2026270
"but Ryan's got me intrigued about sending them for a semi-permanent treatment. Didn't know you could do that."
If it works as advertised, sounds like quite a savings in time and money.Sep 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm #2026275
Glad someone thought to post the link, I came back to do just that.
I was able to get two complete outfits (LS + SS shirts, pants, socks) and a couple more items treated for the cost of two or three brand new Insect Shield treated clothes.Sep 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm #2026276
Delmar, it probably did mean USA. I tried to find the article on Backpacker, but couldn't find it.Sep 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm #2026279
@fox212Locale: THE Bay Area :)
+1 again! Thanks for the info and the link. I too did not know this semi-permanent treatment service was available.
I've found permethrin to be *very* effective against pretty much all types of insects. Great stuff.
I use treated pants and shirt all the time, and treated gaiters when off trail or in areas where ticks are prevalent.Sep 19, 2013 at 6:13 pm #2026282
One other thing I thought about but forgot to mention is that permethrin is extremely toxic to cats (and fish) in large enough quantities. I did not want to risk getting my cat sick by routinely treating my own clothing (they are ok after it dries though). The Insect Shield process eliminates this risk.Sep 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm #2026285
@fox212Locale: THE Bay Area :)
It's only dangerous to cats in it's liquid form. Once treated clothes are dry, they are not dangerous to cats. At least that's what it says on the Sawyer spray bottle instructions. Still a valid concern and a good point to make, just wanted to clarify. Probably best to keep the kitties away from treated clothing anyway :)Sep 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm #2026303
@aggroLocale: Western slope, Sierra Nevada
I have been treated twice for Lyme disease. 30+ days of heavy antibiotics sucks.
I typically don't worry too much when hiking. If it's above say 40* I'm in shorts and can typically feel them climbing up my leg hairs. If I'm wearing pants I will tuck my pant legs into my socks. I typically pick up ticks when I'm wood cutting so then it is steel toed boots and heavy duck pants with the legs duct taped to my boots to prevent entry to the warm moist areas they love. If I do get into a bunch of them I have no problem getting into my birthday suit until my clothes and my body are free of them.Sep 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm #2026309
Hey Brian: the man with experience!
What has been your "sign" that you needed to be treated? Was it the "Target Logo" red bullseye (erythema chronicum migrans)? Lethargy/malaise?
Were you generally able to catch it within a week or two?Sep 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm #2026341
@snapyjohnLocale: Pacific NW
I watched this on netflix scared the stuffing out of me. The Doc makes the claim that if untreated lime disease morphs into something else. At the end the cliff hanger is that it may be sexually transmitted.Sep 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm #2026346
Lyme disease transmitted through SEX?! I thought ticks gave you Lyme disease by BITING you. How would you even…well, nevermind, none of my business.
Oh, wait, you mean sex with an infected HUMAN. Well, that's still discomforting, but less so.Sep 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm #2026350
I know a lot of people in the northeast with Lyme. My cousin has it. A girl I knew also had it, and it was killing her knees. Absolutely eating through them with arthritis and cartilage decay.
I wear mid-calf socks and I check myself, and I have a veritable forest of lower leg hair, so I have not had a tick, ever. I've only been in the woods for 1.5 years, though.Sep 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm #2026354
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
One of my favorite methods for preventing tick bites and Lyme disease:
Every time I've been bitten by a tick, I've been wearing clothes. Must be true!
I couldn't find anything on the "further studies" promised in the article. Maybe the researchers got distracted :-)
Reducing the intelligence of the Internet, one post at a time.Sep 20, 2013 at 4:54 am #2026408
Don't know if I've ever seen a tick locally. (San Gorgonio, San Jacinto). Further north. Infected mosquitoes are more of a concern. I don't take much precaution.Sep 20, 2013 at 6:59 am #2026428Sep 20, 2013 at 7:45 am #2026435
Interesting post, John.
States where you're most likely (incidence >40 per 100K) to get Lyme disease:
New Hampshire (riskiest state!)
VermontSep 20, 2013 at 8:22 am #2026445
I know plenty of people who have had lyme and most have been lucky to catch it early. I know of one woman here in WI that was misdiagnosed with MS I believe, when she actually was suffering from severe lyme disease. It took a few years to get a correct diagnosis.
By all means strip your clothes off and check for ticks, even if you and your clothes are treated against bugs. Personally I think it's just a matter of time before bugs build up an immunity to what people are using, hopefully I'm wrong. Removing the bug before it has a chance to dig itself in is crucial. I am regularly dropping trow right at parking areas to check myself over and encourage anybody who is with me to do the same so you can surely do it in a camp site. Tuck your pants into your socks, check yourself every few minutes as you walk, wear bug spray, drop your pants and take off your shirt to check for ticks that have made it through the other defenses, try to not walk in tall grass and brush during the worst parts of the season, etc.
In my experience ticks are at their worst in spring and fall. It must be that the little ones are freshly hatched and looking for a host and then the pressure drops some in the drier months and picks up again in the wetter fall but not near as bad as in the spring.Sep 20, 2013 at 8:38 am #2026448
@elmvineLocale: Central Texas
When I was a kid in the 1950's and 60's, at camp they used to put powdered sulfur in a sock and dust our ankles (like a powder puff) with it, for ticks and chiggers. I think it worked. I haven't seen that in a long time. Did sulfur turn out to be bad stuff for this?
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