Tick Safety

Female Tick
Female Rocky Mountain Wood Tick up close


Tick Safety

Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks (Dermacentor andersoni) are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. While ticks can be active year round, they are most active in spring and early summer and are most commonly found in grassy, brushy, wooded areas.

Want to learn more about ticks? Visit the Continental Divide Research Learning Center's page to learn more.


Ticks Can Transmit Disease to People

It is important to be tick aware, as they can transmit diseases to human hosts. Ticks can spread several different diseases to humans. The most common disease spread by ticks in Colorado is Colorado tick fever. This is a virus, and most people experience symptoms similar to the flu, such as headaches, fever/chills, and a feeling of fatigue. Ticks can also spread Rocky Mountain spotted fever (Rickettsia rickettsii) and Tick-borne relapsing fever.

Fortunately, the most important tick-borne disease in North America, Lyme disease, is not present in wild animal populations in Colorado (i.e., not endemic). There has never been a confirmed case of Lyme disease originating from a tick-bite in Colorado.

Strategies for Preventing Tick Bites

  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Stay on sidewalks or paved areas where possible.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Be aware when hiking that ticks live in moist and humid environments.
  • To prevent bites, use insect repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions.
  • To prevent ticks from getting on your clothing to your skin, use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Do not use this on your skin.

What to Do After You Come Indoors:

During tick season, always check your clothing for ticks. Ticks can be carried into buildings on your clothing. If you find a tick, remove it. You can also dry your clothing on high heat to kill any hidden ticks.

Do a thorough body check on your self and children after being outdoors. Use a hand-held mirror to view your skin. Remember to check the following places:

  • Arms, ankles, toes, and legs
  • Head, in and around your hair
  • In and around ears
  • Inside your belly button
  • Back of knees
  • Around waist and crotch areas.
Tick on finger
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick crawling on fingernail.


If you find a tick on your skin or embedded, remove it!

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. You can smother it in petrollium jelly if the head is in your skin.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • To dispose of a live tick, submerse it in alcohol, place it in a sealed bag or container, or wrap it tightly in tape. Consider placing the tick in the freezer inside a sealed plastic bag and label it with the date, time, and location where you likely picked up the tick, in case you wish to send it off for lab testing at a later date. Never crush a tick with your fingers!

For more tick safety tips, visit the Center for Disease Control's webpage on Ticks

Last updated: May 31, 2023

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