Unfortunately ticks, a small arachnid, are found in Alberta. Only some of those ticks in Alberta have been known to carry Lyme disease. It is important to know how to prevent ticks and how be prepared in case you do find one on yourself or your children. Note: This is only a brief introduction and more information can be found in the links provided below.
Ticks in Alberta
I love using natural products but unfortunately, they are not as effective against ticks. If you do want to try something more natural then use something that has peppermint and lavender but this is not a guarantee.
My husband and I one time had to take about 100 ticks off ourselves and the kids. It was a little scary, totally gross, and just not worth trying to be completely natural during high tick season.
To prevent ticks, wear shoes, high socks, pants, and a hat. Hike on the trail and avoid tall grass. Use a bug spray that contains either Deet or Picaridin. Deet is highly effective but does damage plastics, including rain jackets and hiking poles so use caution.
Picaridin and Kids
Picaridin is considered safe for kids for over six months and protects against ticks and mosquitos. After 5-6 hours it will need to be reapplied to be effective. It also is safer on clothing and does not damage plastics.
Deet and Kids
A spray with 10% Deet is considered safe in children over six months however, there are limitations.
Children between the ages of six months to two years should only have it applied one time in the day.
Children between the ages of two to 12 years old can have it sprayed every two and a half to four hours up to three times a day.
Children over the age of 12 can use mosquito spray with over 30% Deet every 5-8 hours.
Do a Tick Check
After every hike, make sure to check each hiker’s body, clothing, and shoes for ticks. Especially check for ticks on the scalp, behind the ears, in armpits, groin, and other creases where they may find a hiding place.
If you have a washer and dryer available, then put all clothing directly in the wash. Check your hiking shoes in all the creases. Then, do another tick check before going into the shower.
Found a Tick
If you find a tick, then stay calm. If it has not attached, then take it off, and try to put it into the plastic bag you brought along on the hike. Do not squeeze to kill it as that can cause disease to spread if it is a carrier.
If you find a tick at home after a few days then take a picture of the tick, put it into a plastic bag with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol into the freezer to prevent the tick from drying out. The tick will die in the freezer but be available for testing in case you develop any of the symptoms of Lyme Disease.
Tick has Attached
If you find a tick has attached, use tweezers to pull the tick out at its head and mouth as close to the skin as possible. Pull it straight out without twisting, take a picture of the tick, put it into a bag with rubbing alcohol to avoid drying out, and place it into the freezer.
Submit a Tick
There is a cross Canada program available to submit ticks for identification and testing. Ticks can be sent to local provincial labs or to the National Microbiology Laboratory for testing. Ticks can also be submitted through photo identification on eTick. Through eTick they will determine the risk of Lyme based on the type of Tick that has attached and whether it should be sent in for testing.
Alberta Government – Ticks and Lyme Disease
Information for parents from Canada’s paediatricians – Insect Repellant and Children
eTick – Submit a Tick