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Why These Bugs Should "Tick" You Off

As climate change progresses, the spread and frequency of blacklegged ticks and lyme disease are expected to increase. Many of ReForest London's events take place in areas which may be home to blacklegged ticks. The goal of this article is to educate you and your family on how best practises to avoid and/or treat tick bites to ensure that you have the best possible experience working with ReForest London!

What are Ticks?

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are closely related to spiders. They are very small when unfed, usually around 1 to 5 mm in diameter, and cannot fly or jump.

Blacklegged ticks are external parasites which feed on the blood of mammals and birds, as well as sometimes reptiles and amphibians. They can usually be found around the edges of trails or in tall grass or bushes.

 What's the Risk?

Blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdoferi which can cause Lyme disease. The bacteria are spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks and cannot be transmitted from person to person. Removing a tick within 24 to 36 hours usually prevents the infection.

If the tick is not removed, you may experience symptoms within as few as three days or as long as a month. However, symptoms will usually develop within one to two weeks.



  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pains
  • fatigue
  • skin rash (in the shape of a bull's eye)

If you develop any of the above symptoms following a tick bite, seek medical attention immediately and share with your doctor where you received the tick bite. Lyme disease is rarely, if ever fatal. However, if it remains untreated, it can affect the joints, heart, or nervous system, resulting in the potential for long-term health effects.

How to Avoid Ticks

Chances are, if you are participating in a ReForest London event, you love nature and staying out of grassy or wooded areas is not an option for you. If you are planning on being outside, use the following tips to protect yourself and your family from tick bites:

  • Wear light-coloured clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
  • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and closed-toed shoes
  • Apply an insect repellant containing DEET

After you leave the area:

  • Shower or bathe within two hours of coming back indoors to wash away any loose ticks
  • Put the clothes you were wearing in the dryer for at least 60 minutes to kill ticks
  • Check yourself, family members, and pets for ticks, paying extra attention to hidden areas such as the groin, scalp, and armpits

How to Remove Ticks

If you happen to find a tick on yourself, a pet, or a family member, follow these instructions to remove it properly and safely:

  1. If possible, wear gloves when handling a tick
  2. Use tweezers and try to grab the tick as close to its head as you can - DO NOT use your fingers
  3. Pull the tick straight out and away from the body using steady pressure
  4. Following removal, clean the area with soap and water and wash your hands

The Middlesex-London Health Unit hosts a "Submit a Tick" program to allow for identification and tick surveillance. If you remove a tick, please submit it to the Health Unit using the instructions found on their website.


Hopefully, this article helps you and your family stay safe when outdoors or participating at any of ReForest London's events!


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