Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Keeping Yourself Tick Free While Exploring the Outdoors


Jen Mui

There are so many things to see out in nature, and fear of ticks should never be a reason to avoid exploring. Taking proper precautions while enjoying the outdoors can greatly decrease your risk of being bitten by a tick. 

Step 1: Preventing Tick Bites

•  Wear light colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.

•  Wear long pants tucked into your socks and secured with duct tape.

•  Use a bug spray containing DEET.

•  Stay on trails and avoid overhanging brush where ticks might be.


Step 2: Inspecting Yourself for Ticks

Even with the above precautions, there is still the possibility of bringing home a tick.

•  Carefully inspect yourself and your pets for any ticks, paying extra attention to warm moist areas such as armpits, waistlines, etc.

•  Wash your clothing immediately to prevent ticks on clothing from biting later.


Step 3: Removing a Tick

If a tick has attached to your skin, do not panic.  While not all ticks carry diseases, it is important to remove a tick as soon as you notice it to decrease the chance of infection.

•  Using fine-point tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible.  Avoid squeezing the body of the tick as that may force its contents into your body.

•  Gently and repeatedly tug until the tick releases from your skin. 

•  The tick can be saved in a jar of alcohol for identification or killed and flushed down the toilet.

•  Clean the bite area as you would any insect bite and watch the area over the next several weeks for signs of a spreading rash. 

•  If a rash appears or flulike symptoms occur, consult your doctor and tell them that you were bitten by a tick (it is helpful to still have the tick in a vial of alcohol for identification).


For more information about ticks and other species in Illinois visit the INHS Outreach Webpages


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