Tick Safety

A graphic showing the different kinds of ticks in our area compared to the size of a dime
This graphic shows ticks that are found in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Ticks may be small, but the diseases they sometimes carry can harm a human, so please be careful. Always check yourself and your pets for ticks when you come home from any hike, or other outdoor adventure.

NPS Graphic / David Miller

Tick Safety in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

What's the Big Deal About Ticks?

Ticks are small parasitic arachnids, but most people simply know them as something to fear. Would it surprise you to learn that ticks are an important part of the local ecosystem here in the park? It's true. Many different species look at a tick as a meal. What do you think about when it comes to ticks?

A deer tick on the tip of a branch with arms extended
A deer tick patiently waits to attach to any passing human or animal.

USGS Photo

Ticks and How to Avoid Them

When it comes to ticks, most peoples first reaction might be one of fear. While ticks are something we should be aware of when hiking outdoors, they are not something we need to be afraid of. After all, ticks are a part of nature, just like you.

How do you feel when you see a tick? Do they scare you? Have you ever seen one? What do you need to know about them to keep you safe? Those are all great questions and I bet you would have some great answers, if asked, so let's learn some more about ticks.

Did you know that there are several species of ticks that live in this part of New Jersey and Pennsylvania? Ticks are most active from the late spring until early fall. The tiny deer tick is hard to spot, but can transmit Lyme disease and other illnesses, so you should always do your best to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from tick bites.

It's important to know what ticks look like and the best ways to avoid them. After all, we have something they need; our blood. The word yuck is a perfectly acceptable reaction here. Nature isn't always pretty, but it sure is interesting!

Please use the information below to help keep you safe.

A female Dog tick as seen from above with 4 legs coming from either side of its tear shaped body
This image shows the dorsal, or top view of a female American Dog Tick

Image Credit / www.CDC.gov

Tick Safety

Ticks are tiny parasitic arachnids, which means they rely on blood from humans or animals to survive. They primarily live in wooded, brushy, or grassy areas. Ticks are their most active from April to September but can be found year-round. Spending time outside can put you and your pets in close contact with ticks. It is important to know how to recognize them and remove them, as some ticks transmit disease

A 2019 map of the U.S. showing large numbers of Lyme disease in the Northeast that year
This 2019 map shows the explosion of reported Lyme Disease cases in the northeast United States


Ticks and Illness

Did you know that some ticks can spread disease? These tiny arachnids can carry all kinds of diseases. That sounds scary, we know, but by knowing about ticks, we are better able to defend ourselves and others from tickborne illnesses.

There are many illnesses that can be spread through tick bites. The most common type is Lyme disease, which is spread by Blacklegged ticks (commonly known as deer ticks). Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey have had the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. However, there are very simple things you can do to prevent tick bites while visiting the Delaware Water Gap

After a walk outside, check yourself, or have someone check you for ticks. Don't forget to look under arms and behind your knees.
Checking for ticks after an outing is the best way to avoid tickborne illnesses like Lyme Disease.

CDC Graphic, www.cdc.gov

Avoiding Ticks

The best way to avoid ticks and the illnesses they can carry is to not get any on you in the first place. We all know that is more easily said than done. Those little critters are pretty good at hiding in plain sight, but there are things you can do to make it harder for ticks to attach themselves to you, while you are enjoying the outdoors.

There are several steps you can take to make it harder for a tick to become attached to you.

Below are some tips to keep you tick free.

  • Wear long pants that are light colors: This will cover your skin and make it easier to spot a tick if it is climbing on you.

  • Tuck your pants into your socks: This creates an extra barrier and makes it harder for ticks to get to your skin.

  • Use insect repellent: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a search tool that can help you find the best insect repellent for your needs.

  • Treat your gear using products with 0.5% permethrin

  • Always stay on the trail: When hiking, stick to the middle of the trail and avoid high, grassy areas.

  • Wear long pants that are light colors: This will cover your skin and make it easier to spot a tick if it is climbing on you.

  • Tuck your pants into your socks: This creates an extra barrier and makes it harder for ticks to get to your skin.

  • Use insect repellent: The US EPA has a search tool that can help you find the best insect repellent for your needs.

  • Treat your gear using products with 0.5% permethrin

A graphic of a woman holding up her right arm with tick check areas highlighted
Checking you, your pets, and anything you took outdoors with you for ticks is the best way to avoid tickborne illness. Be smart. Don't be food for ticks.

CDC Graphic / www.CDC.gov

Checking for Ticks

No one wants to get a tick on themselves, but did you know that ticks play an important role in nature? It's true. Ticks, and the blood they feed on, take important nutrients they get by sucking the blood of bigger animals, like a White Tail Deer, and they transfer those nutrients to smaller species in the food chain. That's because animals like Turkeys and Chickens love them. For a wild Turkey, a tick is a tasty treat. What's one of your favorite treats?

Ticks might be a nice thing for a Turkey, but for humans, ticks are nothing but trouble. That's why it's so important to check yourself, your pets, and anything you took outside with you, like a jacket, or walking stick. Ticks are out there and they can't wait to come home on you.

How to Check for Ticks

How to Check for Ticks It is very important to always check yourAfter spending time outdoors in an area where ticks are found, it very important to check yourself and your belongings for

  • Check everything you brought with you: Ticks can come into the house on items like clothing or gear and then attach to you later. Items like these can be placed in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks.

  • Shower after being outdoors: This can help wash off any unattached ticks and is a good opportunity to do a thorough tick check of your body.

  • Do a full body check: Ticks usually hide in dark, damp areas. While using a mirror, make sure to view all parts of your body (see image).

Be Sure to Check These Areas

  • Under arms and armpits
  • In and around ears
  • Backs of knees
  • Between the legs and around the groin
  • Inside the belly button
  • Around the waist
  • In and around hair and scalp
  • Ask a friend or family member to check your scalp, if you need help

A graphic showing the four steps to safely remove a tick with tweezers
Illustration showing the four steps to safely remove a tick

Graphic courtesy of www.CDC.gov

How to Safely Remove a Tick

If You Find a Tick Crawling on You:

If a tick is crawling on you and has not attached itself to your skin, then you can do some east steps to get the tick off of you, by any of the following:

  • Stepping on it
  • Putting it in rubbing alcohol
  • Placing it in a sealed bag or container

  • Wrapping it tightly in tape

  • Flushing it down the toilet

If a Tick is Attached to Your Skin:

If a tick is attached to your skin, the first thing to remember is don't get upset. Remain calm; there’s no need to panic, but it's important to remove a tick as soon as possible. Something important to note is that you should never crush a tick with your fingers. Ticks can carry both viral and bacterial pathogens that we don't want on our bare skin.

Removing a Tick

  1. Use clean tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
  2. Pull upward while keeping pressure steady and even.
  3. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth to break off and remain in the skin (if this does happen, then try and remove the remaining parts. If you can’t, let it be and let the skin heal).
  4. After the tick is removed, clean the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and warm water.
  5. Dispose of the tick using the methods listed above.

How to Get a Tick Tested for Lyme Disease and Other Tickborne Illnesses

What do you do if you've been bitten by a tick? You have options. The CDC has helpful information about tick testing. If you are local to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, there's a tick testing center located on the campus of East Stroudsburg University of Pennylvania called the Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania.

Early testing is the best way to identify potential dangers like Lyme Disease, and other dangerous tickborne illnesses before symptoms are present.

Tick Safety

Last updated: October 27, 2021

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Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 2

Bushkill, PA 18324


570 426-2452

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