Checking for Ticks, Spiders, and Snakes

Ticks appear to be prolific around Lake Texoma this year. Spring season, 2023, in Texomaland has given us a lot of rain and humidity. Ticks become resistant to the same pesticides used over and over. Fleas will be numerous too. Snakes like to hide in boots and shoes because they are constantly looking for shelter but also food sources. 

Brown recluses and other spiders like to hide in boxes, clothing, shoes, tires, bedding, furniture, and storage areas. When you are hiking, biking, or horseback riding around Texomaland this season, it is crucial to check yourself, your pets, and your clothes for ticks. When camping before you get dressed, check boots, clothes, and shoes for snakes, spiders, and ticks. Ticks want blood and are not as threatening to shoes. 

In Texas, snakes pose a real threat to people who wear boots with its ten species of rattlesnakes and three species of copperheads. Water moccasins also roam on land, but are not as likely to take refuge in boots. The most dangerous spiders in Texas are brown recluses and black widows, which live indoors and outdoors, so we need to check boots, clothes, and shoes indoors too. 

We have to check our pets too for ticks, even their gums, because ticks get in their mouths. Pets can bring ticks inside our homes. I had a cat that I used to take camping. He was a tabby, so he was easy to check for ticks. Long-haired pets are more difficult to check. The two most common species of ticks in North Texas are deer ticks and lone star ticks. 

Lone star ticks, a.k.a, brown dog or dog ticks, are aggressive human biters, and carry Bourbon virus disease, eherilichosis, heartland virus disease, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ‘stari’ borreliosis, and tularemia. Deer ticks carry anaplasmosis, babesiosis, eherilichosis, Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both species can also carry other pathogens that cause syndromes. 

We also have striped bark scorpions in North Texas. Do not try to pick up a scorpion because you will be guaranteed to suffer from a scorpion sting. They live under rocks, logs, and organic debris, but they will move indoors. These scorpion stings are rarely fatal to adults, but they hurt more than a wasp sting and cause swelling, and hide in shoes. 

The Best Way to Prevent an Unexpected Bite from a Dangerous Critter

For ticks and spiders, inspect all clothing inside and out, shoes, and any other belongings, like backpacks. For shoes and boots, you can put a small but heavy object like a quarter in them and shake it around. Snakes and scorpions cannot bite through thick leather like cowboy boots. But they can bite through canvas and thin rubber, so rubber gloves will not protect from snake bites when inspecting footwear. Wearing rubber boots can reduce the amount of ticks you might collect, but they may not be sturdy enough for hiking or snakes can bite through them. 

Scorpions hunt nocturnally, so they usually try to find shady and cool places to stay during the heat of the day. When camping, turn your shoes upside down at night. If you can, keep your tent door zippered to help keep pests out. Do not walk barefoot outside on a hike or at your campsite. 

From the U.S. Forest Service to avoid ticks:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tickborne diseases. They may also bring ticks into your home. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away.
  • Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

To check your body for ticks, stand in front of a mirror and check:

  • Back of the knees
  • Along the inside of the legs
  • Around the waist
  • Under the arms and in arm pits
  • Behind the ears
  • In and around head hair
  • Private parts

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