142: TICKS: The Parasitic Arachnid Episode

Show Notes: Episode 142

Today on the First 40 Miles, TICKS: The Parasitic Arachnid Episode.  If you gross out easily when people are talking about blood sucking parasites, we give you full permission to skip this episode.  However, if you’re kinda curious about ticks, how to keep them away and what to do if you end up being a host, then listen on.  Then, on the SUMMIT Gear Review we’ll share an innovative way to remove ticks.  For today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, an item you may already have in your first aid kit that will ensure a quick and easy way to say goodbye to any hitchhikers–plus we’ll dispel some dangerous myths that are still circulating about how to remove a tick.


  • Ticks can transmit disease: Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado tick fever, Tularemia. and more!
  • Powassan virus, tick-borne disease, far rarer and more deadly than lyme transmitted by deer tick, causes inflammation of the brain. Can be transmitted from tick in as little as 15 minutes—compared to LYME which needs 24 hours… so far the states where it’s been discovered and reported: Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, and it’s been around since 1950
  • They can transmit bacteria, virus or protozoa
  • They’re the source of over a dozen diseases that affect humans…
  • Here’s the good news, not all ticks want to infect you with a pathogen. Some just want you to be their host!
  • Ticks, active mid august to November and March to mid May
  • https://www.cdc.gov/features/stopticks/
  • http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/tick-bites-topic-overview

Top 5 Ways To Protect Yourself From Ticks

Always walk in the center of trails

  • The trail is dry, and ticks need moisture to survive. So, stay in the center of the trail, in order to avoid contact with ticks
  • Ticks can be found in grass, trees, shrubs, underbrush

Permethrin repels ticks (.5 %)

  • It is a stable, synthetic form of an insecticidal compound produced by the chrysanthemum flower
  • Permethrin isn’t something you spray on your skin. It’s a clothing and gear spray
  • Permethrin isn’t just a repellant, it’s an insecticide. It kills ticks after only five to 30 seconds of exposure
  • Odorless, and won’t stain clothing
  • A 140-pound person would have no adverse health effects if exposed to 32 grams of permethrin/day. There is less than 1 gram of permethrin in an entire bottle of clothing treatment.
  • NOTE: Permethrin is toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic insects – do not spray clothing near flowers or water sources. Do not allow cats near permethrin-treated clothing until it has fully dried.
  • For more info on Permethrin, go to: http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/permethrin

DEET on skin repels ticks (20%)

  • Deet is a tick repellant
  • Is DEET dangerous? http://www.popsci.com/article/science/deet-safe-use

Long socks and long pants

  • Clothing is a protective barrier against ticks (too bad it doesn’t work for mosquitoes!)
  • Light colored clothing can also help you see ticks better
  • Socks pulled up over your pants is what the man recommends

Check yourself for ticks each night

  • Bring a signaling mirror or small compact makeup mirror
  • They love moist warm areas, so…armpits, between your legs, behind ears, behind knees or in your hair, inside belly button, around the waist
  • Good idea to undress and redress each night
  • Check again when you get home (and take a shower!)

NOTE: A person who gets bitten by a tick usually won’t feel anything at all. There might be a little redness around the area of the bite.

 Free Tick Testing: http://www.bayarealyme.org/lyme-disease-prevention/tick-testing/

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Tick Key


  • Tick Key is fabricated from high-strength anodized aluminum…this is not a weak piece of plastic.
  • Tick Key is currently available in our 6 original metallic colors; Green, Blue, Orange, Purple, Red, Pewter (plus some new colors)
  • Tick Key is flat and is easily stored in a wallet, pocket, on a key chain, collar, saddle, or leash.


  • Place the key over the tick in the slot. Pull key away from tick sliding along the skin. The whole tick is removed, including the head!
  • Tick Key is 99.9% effective
  • Works on people and pets


  • Weighs .2 ounces


  • Keep in your wallet or attach to your pack


  • $6


  • Testing gear is an important part of the gear review process, however…there’s no way to test this without getting bitten by a tick
  • But, the reviews online are glorious!
  • If you live in “tick country” this little tool might make a great “11th essential”

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Fine-tipped Tweezers for Tick Removal

  • Most commercial first aid kits come with tweezers. Tweezers are a brilliant first aid kit staple
  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Save the tick in a plastic bag and watch yourself for signs of disease over the next month.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Do not use a match
  • Do not use nail polish
  • Do not use petroleum jelly
  • Do not do the twist

Trail Wisdom

“In summer the empire of insects spreads.”

-Adam Zagajewski