Tick next to match head
Credit: Wikimedia Commons photo by Aka, CC BY-SA 2.5.

This photo demonstrates how small many members of the tick family or arachnids truly are.

Strategies for avoiding ticks

Often mistakenly called insects, ticks are actually arachnids and closely related to spiders. They’re parasites that sit on a piece of vegetation, waiting for an animal such as a deer to walk by to latch onto. They’ll gladly attach themselves to humans as well. [1]

They eat blood and nothing else (yes I know, gross – but that’s what they do).[1] The best protection, as with other dangers you may encounter in the wilderness such as poison oak and rattlesnakes, is long pants.[2] After hiking I’ve seen a tick on my pants before, and was glad that I hadn’t worn shorts.

If you have short sleeves, be careful about brushing up against vegetation with your arms or hands. Ticks can attach themselves to your arm, which happened to my dad once.

Walk in the middle of trails and avoid brushing up against plants as much as possible. There are some excellent repellents available, which you can spray on exposed skin before a hike. Below I discuss a natural tick repellent. After a hike, it’s good to check clothes and body carefully for ticks.

Repel them naturally

Ticks have been shown to be repelled by rose geranium essential oil. Most essential oils require dilution, but this one typically does not. Check instructions though before use.[3]

Websites that discuss this mention that only a few drops are needed to do the job. A common instruction is to place one drop on each ankle, and on each wrist, and then drops behind the knees, and one on the back of your neck.[3]

It can be used for dogs as well. Dogs are extremely sensitive to smell, so ensure going easy with how much of the oil you use for them. One drop can be placed behind each shoulder blade, and also on their lower backs, near their tails. It's important to avoid their faces and noses.[3][4]

The product below contains an affiliate link that generates the author a small commission on purchases made through that link.

Natural tick repellent

Rose Geranium 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil by Edens Garden- 10 ml
Amazon Price: $21.95 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 12, 2016)
There is also a 5 ml version for sale on Amazon. This larger bottle however is a lower price per quantity.

What to do if a tick gets on you

Tick bites can become very painful, and it’s important to know what to do if one gets on you and tries to, or is succeeding at, sucking your blood.  It’s important to remove them correctly, because you don’t want to remove their body, but the head remains embedded in your skin.[1]

It’s also important to look for signs of infection or illness, as some ticks carry diseases. It’s not common for them to have diseases in some places, such as where I live in Southern California, but it’s not impossible either. [1]

To remove a tick, use fine tweezers. Pinch the creature as close to the skin, and the animal’s head, as possible and gently pull it straight out. Don’t twist, and don’t grab its fat abdomen. If you can’t get it out, see a medical professional. If the head breaks off, see a medical professional.[1][5]

That’s all there is to it, and knowing safety information about ticks and other potential dangers in the wilderness will maximize your chances of having an enjoyable outing.