It’s tick season!
This time of year, we welcome visitors from all around the country to beautiful Jackson Hole. And for those of you from the East Coast, the thought of “tick season” might be truly scary.
The good news: our Barker-Ewing scenic raft trips don’t travel through tick habitat, so we’re extremely unlikely to encounter them on the river. But many folks who float with us will also be hiking or biking in the woods around our valley, and should pay special attention to tick prevention.
In the United States, ticks are responsible for the greatest number of insect-related illnesses, and worldwide, the tick follows only behind the mosquito as a source of insect-borne disease. Here in Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, the most common ticks include the Rocky Mountain tick, the Deer tick, the Wood tick, and the Dog tick.
Ticks are found in woodlands, dense brush, and grasses. They also can be found in woodpiles, around stone fences, and along trails. So avoid areas known to be tick hotspots. Pull your socks over your pants to keep ticks out, and use DEET infused insect repellent. When returning indoors, hikers should check themselves and each other for ticks on their clothing and their skin. Be sure to check scalps and backs, and use a mirror for those hard-to-reach places.
Recent studies indicate that the best way to remove a tick is mechanical. Don’t use petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol or any other toxic substances, and don’t burn the tick while it is attached to your skin. Simply use a pair of fine tweezers, and grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can. Gently pull straight out, without twisting or squeezing, and save the tick in a Ziplock bag in your freezer for later identification should symptoms arise.
Jackson Hole is a wild place, so check for ticks after you play in the woods, hang your food when backpacking through bear country, stay well back from Bison, and keep your daughters away from cowboys. And enjoy your Barker-Ewing scenic float trip: in 20 years on the river I have yet to find a tick on my boat.