I managed to spend every summer of my childhood in the deep woods without ever encountering any ticks. We used to make our way to the Peterborough region which is considered to have a much greater tick population than our area in Southern Georgian Bay. It wasn’t until recently that I was bitten by one tick, pulled one from my dog, and avoided two others before they latched on.
These nasty little creatures can carry Lyme disease, which can be devastating even years after the initial infection. Identifying the problem and early treatment are the best course of action to keep you safe this summer.
Learn how to avoid bites from blacklegged ticks, which may carry Lyme disease.
On this page provided by Ontario.ca
Where blacklegged ticks live
Blacklegged ticks (also called deer ticks) live in woodlands, tall grasses and bushes – and thrive in wet environments.
They are most commonly found in areas along the north shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
Know the risk
Not all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme disease. A tick must be infected by the bacteria causing Lyme disease in order to pass it on to you.
While the probability is low, it’s possible to encounter an infected tick almost anywhere in Ontario
Ticks are most active in the summer months, but can be found at any time of the year when the temperature is above freezing.
Where infected ticks are found
Infected ticks are commonly found in these areas:
Long Point Provincial Park on the northwest shore of Lake Erie
Turkey Point Provincial Park on the northwest shore of Lake Erie
Rondeau Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Erie
Point Pelee National Park on north shore of Lake Erie
Pinery Provincial Park on the southeast shore of Lake Huron
Rouge Valley/Rouge Park on east side of Greater Toronto Area
Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area on northeast shore of Lake Ontario
Wainfleet Bog Conservation Area on the Niagara Peninsula
Infected ticks are becoming more common in the Rainy River area of northwestern Ontario.
Blacklegged ticks spread to new areas of the province because of climate change and warmer winter temperatures. They can also spread by traveling on birds and deer.
We continue to track where infected – and uninfected – ticks are being found.
How to avoid tick bites
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites by:
using insect repellent
washing and drying thoroughly
checking your pets
There’s more you can do if you live or work in a woodland area.
Your clothing gives you an important layer of protection. Make sure to wear:
light-coloured clothing so you can spot ticks and remove them before they bite
a long-sleeved shirt or jacket tucked into long pants
tuck the pants into your socks for extra protection
socks and closed footwear
Use insect repellent
Use an insect repellent, or bug spray, containing DEET or Icaridin on clothes and exposed skin. Always read the label for directions on how to use it.
When you go to an area where blacklegged ticks live, check – and recheck – yourself by:
Paying close attention to areas such as your scalp, ankles, armpits, groin, naval and behind your ears and knees using a mirror to check the back of your body or having someone else check for you. When you’ve double-checked yourself, don’t forget to do the same for children in your care.
Wash and dry
After an outdoor activity, you can:
put your clothes into a dryer on high heat for at least 60 minutes to kill any possible ticks
take a shower as soon as you can to wash off a tick that may not be attached through a bite
Check your pets
Talk with your veterinarian about protecting your pets from ticks.
Regularly check pets that spend time outdoors. Ticks may attach to them and be carried indoors, putting you and your family at risk of being bitten.
If you live or work in a woodland area
You can lower chances of contact with – and bites from – blacklegged ticks by:
keeping grass mowed short
trimming bushes and tree branches to let in sunlight (ticks avoid hot, dry locations)
creating a border of gravel or woodchips one metre or wider around your yard if you’re next to a wooded area, or one with tall grasses
removing leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and from stone walls and wood piles
moving children’s swing sets, playground equipment and sandboxes away from wooded areas
consider placing equipment on a woodchip or mulch foundation
How to remove a tick
Removing a tick is the same for humans and animals. Follow these steps to remove ticks:
If the tick is attached to you, use fine-tipped tweezers or tick removal tool to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Do not use your fingers.
Pull the tick straight out, gently but firmly making sure to remove the entire tick (including the head). Don’t squeeze it – avoid crushing the tick’s body.
After removing the tick, place it in a secure container, such as a screw-top bottle used for medication.
Give the tick to your health care professional or local health unit.
Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water.
How not to remove a tick
Always remove attached ticks with tweezers. Be sure not to:
burn the tick
paint the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) to detach it from your skin.
This could cause Lyme bacteria to pass through your skin and into your bloodstream.
You can take the tick – in its secure container – to your doctor, health care professional or local public health unit. If appropriate, they will send it to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory for identification.
By bringing a tick in for identification, you help us keep track of tick populations, growth and movement.
If you’re a healthcare provider
Testing ticks should not be used to diagnose Lyme disease. Diagnosis should be based on your clinical judgement.
Lyme disease symptoms
Common symptoms include:
muscle and joint pain
spasms, numbness or tingling
expanding skin rash
People with Lyme disease often see symptoms within 1-2 weeks. But symptoms can appear as early as 3 to 30 days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
If you think you have Lyme disease
See your doctor or a healthcare professional right away, whether you have symptoms, or are just feeling unwell in the weeks following a tick bite.
find a doctor or healthcare professional
find the nearest public health unit
call Telehealth Ontario, a free service connecting you to registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day
1-866-797-0000 (toll free)
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.
For healthcare professionals
As a healthcare professional, you may get questions about blacklegged tick bites, and the spread and prevention of Lyme disease every year.
Follow these steps and stay safe and tick free this summer. If you’re concerned about getting bitten while doing any yard work I have an easy solution. Call Harbourview Property Management. Our crews are trained to deal with the pitfalls of outdoor projects.
You’re busy. Let us do the work!