Do Ticks Fall From Trees?
Dear Dr. Cory:
My brother says that ticks will fall from trees and bite me at camp this summer. Is that true?
Experts at the TickEncounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island said they often get asked this question. But, ticks don’t fall from trees and bite you. Because ticks are so small and prone to drying out, they like to stay close to the ground in the leaves or low brush. They usually will not climb brush much higher than knee or thigh height where they can hook onto animals and people who are walking through wooded or grassy areas. They often climb on a person’s legs first. Then they crawl up the body to find a place to bite.
Tick Tips for Campers
To keep these annoying critters from biting you and to help prevent the serious diseases they spread:
- Inspect yourself every night before going to bed. Check under your arms, behind your ears, knees, and inside your navel ( belly button). If you have a bunk mate, take turns checking the backs of your arms, legs, and necks.
- Remove any ticks right away. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol and remove the tick with a sharp pair of tweezers. Ticks attached less than 24 hours are less likely to spread diseases. See the right way to remove ticks at tickencounter.org
- Apply insect repellent with DEET before going in wooded areas or on trails. Please read repellent labels carefully.
- Wear light-colored clothing and tuck pants into calf-height socks so ticks can be seen and brushed off when you go hiking.
- Hike in the center of trails to avoid overhanging grass and brush.
- Ask your parents about treating your clothing with permethrin before you leave for camp. It kills ticks on contact. For more information about how to treat clothes with permethrin, check out tickencounter.org. To buy pretreated clothing from Insect Shield® Repellent Apparel, visit insectshield.com.
If you have a children's health question, Dr. Cory would like to hear from you.
Disclaimer: The Ask Dr. Cory health information is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to, and does not, provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always consult your family doctor when you have medical questions or concerns about you or your family's health. If this is an emergency, call 911, or contact emergency services in your area.