The sun is out, temps are high, and the mountains are calling. But the trails aren’t just crawling with hikers this time of year — tick season is also in full swing! Here’s what you need to know:
Wait, Colorado has ticks? Yes. If you’ve heard ticks can’t survive our high altitude, that’s a myth! Ticks can live at elevations up to 10,000 feet according to UC Health. Colorado is home to 30 different species of ticks. They live along forest edges, on the tips of plants and grasses, making it easy to latch onto an unsuspecting hiker.
Just how dangerous are ticks? Ticks carry infection-causing bacteria and parasites, most common of which are Colorado tick fever and tick-borne relapsing fever. Though Colorado ticks don’t carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, you can get it if you’re hiking somewhere else.
What are some steps for avoiding ticks?
- Stay covered. Wear tall socks or pants when hiking to protect your skin. Consider wearing a tick repellent on your skin or repellent-treated clothes.
- Avoid walking through tall grasses or cramped, bushy trails. Avoid sitting directly on logs or against trees.
- Check your clothing and gear for ticks before getting back in the car.
- Do a thorough tick check once you’re home. Take a warm shower and check all your cracks and crevices! (If you hiked with your pup, check them for unwanted hitchhikers as well!)
- Throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes to get rid of any ticks that may have hitched a ride home.
- If you find a tick on your body, use tweezers to remove it immediately. (Here are proper tick removal tips from the CDC.)
- Check out the TickTracker app, which allows you to track and report tick encounters. You can also use the app to learn more about ticks, tick safety, and tick-borne illnesses.