Don’t Let the Ticks Bite

Checking for ticks after hiking and playing outside is the best way to protect yourself

Ticks are small, insect-like creatures most often found outdoors during warm weather, in wooded areas or places with tall grass and weeds. Ticks feed by attaching to animals and humans, sticking their mouthparts into the skin, and sucking blood for up to several days. There are many different kinds of ticks in California, but only six kinds are known to commonly bite humans. Sometimes these ticks carry germs like bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted to a person while the tick is attached and feeding. Avoiding tick-bites is the best way to avoid getting these diseases.

Ticks are found in the forest or in grassy areas, especially alongside hiking trails. Ticks wait at the end of a piece of grass or on logs until an animal or person brushes against them. After ticks get on an animal or person, they look for a good hiding place, so it is hard to see them. Ticks bite and suck blood, and sometimes they give germs to people and pets that can make them sick.

How you can protect yourself:

When you hike, camp or play where ticks are found:

  • Wear bug spray
  • Wear light-colored clothes because it is easier to see ticks on them.
  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks or boots and tuck in your shirt.
  • Stay on trails.

Checking for ticks:

  • After you go for a hike, or spend time outside where there are ticks, check yourself and everyone in your family – including your pets – for ticks. Look very carefully, including behind your ears. If you find a tick stuck to your body, remove it quickly and carefully using tweezers.
  • Check children and pets carefully. Kids and pets may be more likely to encounter ticks and get tick-bites because they may go off trails, play in grassy areas or in leaves under trees in natural habitats where ticks are found. They may also be less likely to notice a tick if one attaches to them, so it is important to check children and pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.

How to remove a tick:

  1. Grab the tick close to your skin with tweezers or a tissue, and pull it straight out.
  2. Wash the skin where the tick bit you.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. If you get sick after a tick bite, go to the doctor.

For more information, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's tick guide.