Tick Safety

A close up of a brown tick on a green blade of grass.

Ticks are small — so small, in fact, that they can be very difficult to see with the naked eye. Therein lies the danger. Several species of ticks are common throughout the Park, and they can transmit diseases to humans through a bite. It is important to take precautions whenever you are out exploring the Park, even if you're just taking a short stroll through nature.


Tick Bites

The ticks found in Shenandoah are often on tall grass and shrubby undergrowth where they wait on the tips of leaves to attach to a passing host. Physical contact is the only method of transportation; they do not jump or fly. Hosts who pass through vegetation with ticks may find one or many ticks crawling on them. On people, ticks usually attach to the skin at tight places such as sock and undergarment lines.

Risk of Disease

Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are among the serious illnesses that can be transmitted by tick bites and are known to have been contracted in Shenandoah. These diseases can go undiagnosed if the affected person is not alert to these diseases' symptoms, particularly if the patient's physician is in a region not usually affected by tick-borne illnesses.

Preventing Tick Bites

  • Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants, with pant legs tucked into socks and shirts tucked into pants. Consider wearing gaiters or compression clothing, as well, in order to minimize the risk that they may attach to areas where they can be harder to detect.
  • Do frequent tick checks of yourself and any children or pets with you. Always check for ticks after any outdoor activity, both at the end of the day and the next morning.
  • Consider using chemical applications. 0.5% Permetherin insecticide applied to clothing is effective in reducing tick bites; however, when used improperly it can create negative health effects. DEET repellent has only limited effectiveness against ticks (less than a couple of hours). Picaridin is another repellent option that will not ruin synthetic fabrics or their water-repellent finishes. Always use and store chemicals according to the manufacturers' instructions.

Finding an Attached Tick

Timely and proper removal of ticks greatly decreases the chance of diseases being transmitted. If you find a tick attached to you, remove the tick and clean the bite site. If you become ill after a tick bite, even weeks later, see a health care provider. Some species of ticks are so small that you may never see them, so if you become ill after visiting an area where ticks are common, you should inform your health care provider of the possibility of a tick-borne disease.

Last updated: April 5, 2023

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Shenandoah National Park
3655 U.S. Highway 211 East

Luray, VA 22835


540 999-3500
Emergency Phone: 1-800-732-0911

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