How to Rid Yourself of Outdoor Pests

March 11, 2018

Getting bitten by outdoor pests sucks – literally!Three of the most annoying offenders actually suck your blood. And some leave annoying side effects behind. Let’s face it; nothing ruins a great hiking trip or a day outdoors like swarms of bloodsucking mosquitoes, disease-ridden ticks, or worm-like leeches. Save these tips for the next time you find yourself stuck in the woods without your tick removal tool or leech socks.

Removing Ticks

They’re not just creepy-crawly! Although many ticks don’t carry diseases, the few that do and the serious health problems that a tick bite may cause are reason enough to regularly check yourself and your loved ones for ticks after spending time outdoors. Removing ticks as soon as possible minimizes the odds of developing conditions like Lyme disease or the Powassan virus.

The Preferred Method

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using fine-tipped tweezers to effectively remove ticks.

  1. Grasp the tick as close to the surface of your skin as possible.
  2. Apply steady pressure and pull upward without twisting or jerking, which can cause the tick’s head to break-off and remain in your skin.
  3. After removing the tick, dispose of it by submersing it in alcohol or placing it in a sealed container or bag.
  4. Clean the bite area with soap and water, iodine, or rubbing alcohol.

No Tweezers?

No tweezers, no problem! Before you panic, try these tips:

  • Cover those mitts with gloves, a plastic bag or tissue paper before using your fingers the same way you would use tweezers. Who knew those long nails would be so handy outdoors?
  • Try the liquid soap method, by putting liquid soap on a cotton ball or a piece of fabric and hold it on the tick for about 30 seconds. It should remove its head and get tangled in the cotton ball or fabric.
  • If you can’t remove the tick, dial your doc for advice…and maybe an appointment.

Removing Leeches

If you’ve been hiking in the tropics, backpacking in boggy areas, or swimming in infested waters, you might find a little traveler that’s attached itself to you. Once you get over the heebie-jeebies, try this method to remove it:

  1. Place your fingernail on your skin near the oral sucker on the small end of the leech and slide your finger toward it while pushing the leech away sideways.
  2. Pluck the larger end at the same time to loosen its suction and detach the leech completely.
  3. Clean the wound with soap and water.

Pest Repelling Tips

  • Use the brain your mama gave you. It may sound obvious, but avoiding peak exposure times and places, using a repellent, or wearing protective clothing can go a long way toward ridding yourself of pest problems.
  • If you’re camping in a buggy area, use a bed net.
  • Carry commercially available products to help repel mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Alternatively, use a diluted solution of oil of lemon eucalyptus, an effective natural repellent against many insects.
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