Ticks and the Bruce Trail
As our winters become ever warmer, tick populations are increasing throughout Southern Ontario. Always take preventative measures and exercise caution when exploring the Bruce Trail to prevent tick bites and Lyme Disease.
While we’re fortunate to have access to beautiful outdoor spaces in Ontario, including the Bruce Trail, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety during your visit. While ticks are mainly found in the southern sections of the Trail, they are gradually moving north as winters become shorter and warmer. This means that no matter where you are on the trail, it’s important to be mindful of ticks and take preventive measures to protect against Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of blacklegged ticks, also known as Deer Ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Blacklegged ticks along with other tick species such as American dog ticks, can be found along the Bruce Trail so learning to identify and deal with them is key to minimizing the risk.
It is important to note that not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme Disease. However, if you happen to find a tick on yourself, you should take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
To avoid picking up ticks while on the Trail and protect against a tick bite and Lyme disease hikers should:
– Stay on the Trail and avoid bushy areas and long grass if possible.
– Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and tuck your socks into your pants.
– Wear closed footwear and socks.
– Use an insect repellent that has DEET. Apply it to your skin and outer clothing.
– If taking your pet out on the Trail, make sure they are up to date on their tick medication and check for ticks periodically during the hike and immediately after.
– Wear light-colored clothing. It makes ticks easier to see and remove before they can attach to feed.
Once you are home, examine yourself and your clothing thoroughly for ticks. Pay special attention to areas such as the groin, scalp, and armpits, as ticks are drawn to these sites. Use a mirror to check the back of your body or have someone else check it. Shower in hot water soon after being outdoors.
Wash your hiking clothes and dry them with a hot dryer, as ticks can survive off the body.
If you find a tick on your body, follow these steps. This will help prevent infection since the tick needs to be attached for more than 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
Lyme disease in Ontario is a concern for everybody who enjoys outdoor activities but your chances of contracting it on the Bruce Trail are quite low and should not interfere with your enjoyment of the Niagara Escarpment. By learning how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are, and how to protect yourself from tick bites, you can relax and take pleasure in your hike.