There are things that creep and crawl out there in the woods.
There are plenty of reasons to be outside this time of the year. But whether you're hiking the dust off your boots after a long winter, scouting for a few vocal gobblers, or are stalking a remote stretch of your favorite trout stream, you need to be careful. There are things that can hurt you.
I had a good reminder of the lesson earlier this week. I spent both days of last weekend in the woods. And I spent Wednesday night at the doctor's office figuring out what to do about the deer tick that was burrowed deep into my thigh.
Deer ticks, while small in size, can bring big trouble. We've all heard of Lyme disease. Across Pennsylvania, about 5,000 folks are diagnosed with the ailment each year. While it can be treated fairly easily if caught early, the ailment is not something any of us want to deal with.
There's no denying that every time we step into the woods, or even our gardens, during the spring, the risk of picking up a hitchhiker or two is high. But that should not deter us from heading outdoors. Follow a few simple steps before heading into the woods and you can minimize your risk of attracting any nasty parasites.
Most experts will tell you, wearing light-colored clothing is vital. They allow us to easily spot a dark-colored tick before he makes it to our skin for an easy meal. Long, tight-fitting sleeves and full-length pants are also a must.
It may not be much of a fashion statement, but tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your shoes to keep exposed skin to a minimum. If ticks can't get under your clothing, you have a much better chance of spotting and getting rid of them before they attach to your body.
Finally, contrary to popular myths, ticks can't leap or drop out of trees onto humans. They wait on leaves or in thick brush for a potential host to come by. Once we brush against their hideout, they attach to our skin or clothing and settle in for a meal.
To deter them from wanting to hitch a ride, apply a tick repellant containing chemicals such as DEET (with a concentration of 20 percent or higher) or permethrin before heading outdoors. And stay toward the center of trails.
Ticks are nasty, creepy little critters that do a good job of making us squirm and itch, but with a little precaution and knowledge, there's no reason the blood-suckers should cause you any harm. Know how to minimize your chances of attracting ticks and, just as important, understand the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.
I got a good reminder this week.
-- Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york dispatch.com.