With the arrival of summer and warm temperatures, an increasing number of people are venturing outside to enjoy the trails. Unfortunately, the nice weather also means that tick season is upon us. The creepy crawlers are typically active in Saskatchewan between April and July with the peak happening in May and June.
Ticks are eight-legged arthropods (related to spiders) that need a blood meal from a vertebrate host to complete their life cycle. When ticks feed, they can transmit tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease to people and their pets.
The most common tick in Saskatchewan is the American Dog tick. There are also some areas that have Rocky Mountain Ticks and Winter ticks (moose tick). These species are usually active from mid-April to the end of July and cannot transmit Lyme disease to people. Blacklegged ticks, which can cause Lyme disease, are fortunately rare in Saskatchewan. Introduced by migratory birds in early spring, blacklegged ticks mature into adults and remain active throughout fall, particularly in tall grass, brush, or wooded areas.
Ticks move by crawling and running, but do not leap or fly. They cling to grasses and grab on to hosts as they walk by. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
In April of last year, the Government of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, launched eTick (www.etick.ca), an image-based tick identification platform. Residents of Saskatchewan can submit photographs of ticks found on humans or animals using the eTick online system to receive timely identification of the type of tick and information on the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases.
To prevent tick bites:
- Ticks like warm, sunny days so go out when it’s colder if you really want to avoid them.
- Early mornings are also a good time to avoid ticks as they like the sunnier parts of the day.
- Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that do not expose your bare feet.
- Pull socks over your pant legs to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs.
- Wear light-coloured clothes so ticks can be seen easily.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Apply repellent to clothes as well as your skin. Always read and follow the directions on the label. Some repellents may have age restrictions.
- In Canada, clothing that has been treated with the insecticide permethrin has been approved for use by people over the age of 16.
- Shower or bathe as soon as possible after being outside to wash off loose ticks and inspect for attached ticks.
- Do “full-body” tick checks after being outside on yourself, your children, and your pets.
If you find a tick attached to your skin or on your pet:
- Carefully remove it with fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick’s mouthparts as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull slowly upward and out with firm, steady pressure.
- Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body after removal.
- Do not put Vaseline, gasoline, or other harmful substances on an attached tick.
- Submit photos of the tick using the eTick system, and please keep ticks in a secure container until you receive the identification results. Ticks can be euthanized by placing them in a bag and storing it in the freezer for 24 hours.
Additional Information can be found at: