April - that "Ticky time of year again Anyone who has a four legged friend is likely to know all about these little blighters. But we just wanted to share some advice, and tips for anyone who may not yet have had the "pleasure"
As the weather gets warmer it gets more and more likely that your "best friend" or even you could be subject to stowaways when visiting Scotland.
What are ticks?
The tick is an invertebrate related to spiders. There are over twenty species in Britain related to various different mammal or bird hosts. They carry a number of diseases, the most well known of which is Lyme disease.
They can be found all across Scotland and particularly in the wetter west, in woodlands, moorlands and long grass.
Scientists recorded more than 800,000 ticks in just a short stretch of thick vegetation at the side of a path. They are active all through the year, but particularly in summer.
What's the problem?
The tick has three life stages: larva, nymph and adult, taking between one and three years to complete a life-cycle. Each stage requires a single blood meal to grow. It is when they are feeding that ticks can pass on infections and bacteria.
Both larval and nymph stages of the ‘sheep tick’, the most common species found in Scotland, are the ones most commonly encountered by walkers. They climb to the top of foliage and attach to passing animals, generally small mammals, but they will also feed on humans if they get the chance. Climbers on sea cliffs can be at risk of encountering tick species, like the 'seabird tick' too.
The tick's bite is painless and some ticks can be as small as a poppy seed or spec of dirt, so it can be easy to overlook them. A tick will generally remain attached until it is gorged with blood, increasing greatly in size, before dropping off. This can take between a few days and 2 weeks.
So how to avoid them ? When you are out and about in the hills try to:
Keep away from long grass and thick foliage if you can - where walks are "way marked" or there are paths stay on them - you are less likely to be ambushed.
Cover up , leaving skin exposed is open to invite , try and cover your legs, feet, ankles or arms - wear long sleeves, tuck trousers into your socks or wear gaiters, choose fabric which is thickly woven.
Spray insect repellent on clothing and socks. A good repellent will contain DEET , the article here covers several options for humans and pets
Wear light-coloured clothing so you can see the dark ticks and remove them - inspect clothing often to remove the ticks.
Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks when you get home, especially your hairline, navel, groin, arm pits, between toes, behind the ears and knees.
If however you happy to be unlucky dont panic as you may not be infected but it would be advisable to remove it as soon as possible
How to remove a tick ?
People ask about vaseline or tweezers and we wouldnt recommend this, as they tend not to work or cause more damage
The most appropriate and reliable way of removing a tick without leaving any remnants in your skin is to purchase a tick hook.
There are different types of hook varying in size dependent on the size of your guest, but they are not expensive, and will also explain how best to remove it safely
Don’t use a lighted cigarette or match or essential oils to encourage the tick to fall off and don't squeeze the tick (especially one that is engorged with blood) as this will inject the fluid in the tick back into your body.
If you are worried about this for yourself or your pet then seek professional assistance
We want you to enjoy your visit and part of this is being equipped and informed about every eventuality , so you can make the appropriate plans. If you would like a copy of a FREE information leaflet please complete your details , we would be more than happy to send one to you .
Happy Advantures !