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How Do I Keep Ticks Away From My Campsite?

How Do I Keep Ticks Away From My Campsite?


Ticks don’t come crawling over to your campsite like other pests. They grab on to your clothing and skin when you brush against tall grasses and bushes. They are far more prevalent in the warmer months. They are a problem even in developed campgrounds and RV parks, but more so when you’re boondocking.

what a tick bite looks like on a human
A common dog tick found feeding on someone’s back

How Do I Keep Ticks Away From My Campsite

Here’s how to keep ticks away from your campsite…

  • Stay on Trails – Ticks crawl up long grasses and bushes and wave a few legs out waiting for some animal to come by. When one comes, they grab hold for a ride. As long as you remain on trails, and don’t venture off into the grasses and bushes, you can be pretty successful at keeping ticks off.
  • Wear a Hat – There are other varieties of ticks that prefer to rest on branches of trees. When you or an animal walks below, they fall off and land on you. Wearing a hat will give you a layer of protection. Check your hat frequently.
  • Camp in Dry Climates – Ticks are rarely found in desert environments. They need moist environments to lay their eggs, where grass and bush grow tall and dense.
  • Don’t Camp on Grass – Make a point of camping on dirt clearings. Also clear away any piles of leaves, solitary weeds, dead-and-down branches.
  • Don’t Play Fetch With Your Dog – When your dog runs into grasses and bushes, that’s when it picks up ticks.
  • Keep Your Dog on a Leash – Make sure it remains on trails and dirt clearings.
  • Keep Your Cat Inside Your Vehicle – Make sure you have cat-litter and a litter-box on hand.
  • Always Check Your Body for Ticks – You’ll never feel a tick crawling on your skin, and you will never feel them bite. They are extremely stealth.
  • Keep Tweezers and Rubbing Alcohol on Hand – Ticks are tough to pull off. More than likely, its jaws will break off and remain in the skin. Your body will eventually push them out. Use rubbing alcohol to clean the bite. Remove ticks immediately. Don’t wait to go to an urgent care clinic. If a tick is infected with Lyme Disease, it still takes about 24-48 hours for the disease to pass into your body.

Use the Best Tick Repellents

Deet, Permethrin, and Picaridin remain as the best repellents against ticks. Deet and Picaridin can be sprayed on both skin and clothing, but Permethrin can only be used on clothing. They are also all effective against fleas, mosquitoes, and gnats.

Deet is a chemical and has been linked to cancer. But, it’s still the most powerful repellent of them all. It has an odor to it, and may turn off some people. As long you spray Deet on your clothing, and not your skin, you’re generally safe to use it. Unfortunately, Deet doesn’t last very long. A typical 40% solution lasts only 4 to 6 hours. A 100% solution has been known to last up to 10 hours. When spraying Deet, make sure to spray it down wind so that you don’t end up inhaling it.

Permethrin is a natural repellent, harvested from the Chrysanthemum flower. It’s odorless. When sprayed on skin it becomes terribly itchy and will produce a rash. Spray Permethrin on your shoes, socks, pants, shirts, and hats. But don’t spray while you’re wearing them. Let them dry completely before putting them on. Once applied, Permethrin will remain effective for 40 to 50 days, surviving through 6 to 7 washes.

Picaridin is often seen as the best of both worlds. It’s a chemical like Deet, but has not been linked to cancer. It’s also odorless. It can be sprayed on both skin and clothing. A typical 20% solution will last up to 14 hours against mosquitoes, but only a brief 2 to 3 hours against ticks. That may be enough time if you need it for a hike. It’s also safe to spray on pets.

tick mosquito repellent

Where to Buy Tick Repellents

What About Dogs and Cats?

Picaridin is the only one of the above three repellents safe for dogs and cats. Deet is deadly for pets. Permethrin is not deadly, but will cause intense itching and rashes. You could, however, spray Permethrin on pet clothing.

Instead, we recommend using a prescription-based chewable for dogs and cats. Symparica and Bravecto are the two most effective chewables. Each will last up to three months. Once a tick or flea bites a pet treated with either of these chewables, they die. Neither seem to pose any problems for pets. We’ve had dogs on either one of these two and they still lived their full life expectancy. To get your hands on Symparica or Bravecto, you’ll have to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian.

Over-the-counter chewables, collars, powders and shampoos are all ineffective. We’ve tried many of them. Ticks are very determined bugs. They have only one shot at hitching a ride, and may never find a passing animal again. Make sure you stick to prescription chewables like Symparica or Bravecto, or go with a Picaridin spray.

Can I Get Ticks From My Dog?

That’s highly unlikely. When a tick grabs hold of a dog it immediately begins looking for a soft, safe place to bite. Once it bites, it digs in and locks itself into place. It won’t release for anything unless it dies or sees another tick to mate with.

Then How Did a Tick Crawl Inside my Vehicle?

If you see a tick inside your RV or vehicle, it most likely got there from your clothing. You probably had a tick on your shoes, socks, pants, or jacket. When you returned to your vehicle, you took off your jacket, or changed your clothes.

What About Other Natural Tick Repellents?

None of them work. We’ve tried many different “all natural” tick repellents, and they just don’t work. We’ve tried repellents based on lemon oil, vanilla, cedar oil, and citronella oil, and yet we’ve continued to find ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, and gnats, all crawling on us or landing on us. We love the idea of using all-natural repellents, but when you’re out in the grasses and you see ticks crawling on your pants, you’re going to wish you brought the heavy hitters.

What About Using Diatomaceous Earth?

This won’t work with ticks. Diatomaceous Earth is meant to be sprinkled around campsites, tents, even around your house. It only kills insects that crawl over it. Ticks don’t crawl towards your camp. They wait for you to come to them and grab hold of your clothing.

Learn More About Keeping Bugs Away From Your Camp

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