There was once a time when people didn’t worry about ticks much in the UK, but with global warming they are on the rise. Tick bites are becoming a concern for more people each year, and it would seem as if they are on the rise.
Two species of tick are prevalent in the UK. The Argasidae, a “soft tick” family. BADA note that they are called soft ticks because they have a spongy and wrinkled back, which extends like a hood over their head and mouth parts. Then there are the Ixodidae, a “hard tick” family,with a hard plate-like shield that covers their backs. Unlike soft ticks, the head and mouth parts can be seen from above because the shield does not cover them. There are many species of ticks in each of these families. It is usually a species of hard tick that is found on domestic pets or people, although some soft ticks will bite if they get the chance.
Like mosquitos, another annoying creature we are seeing more of, the tick feeds off blood. They can turn a trip to the woods into a worrying experience and checking for tick bites has now become part and parcel of this experience. We can’t keep out children away from nature completley, yet we can’t fight off these tiny creatures that hide so well, so our only defence is to repel them, again as we do with mosquitos.
The bite in iself is no problem, it’s the fact the a tick could be carrying Lymes’ disease, a difficult to detect condition, but with terrible effects. Before you head out, take some simple steps to reduce the chances of being bitten. Do your homework to find out where they are concentrated and where there is an issue with ticks. Cover arms and legs, and put repellent on, either a deet or permethrin based one, or a more natural solutions such as lemon eucalpytus oil.
When you get home do a thorough tick check on kids, especially around the ears, armpits and back of the knees. These pesky creatures should not keep us away from the woods, but you do need to watch out for them. Make tick prep a part of your routine and you should enjoy nature, without the worry.