Hiking and bug safety

There are literally hundreds of bugs in Nevada and the only way to avoid all of them is to stay inside your fumigated house. Since you like to be outside if you are reading this; there are a few bugs I will discuss and what to do to avoid them, protect yourself or take care of yourself if you contact them. The first bug to worry about is the tick; wood tick, dog tick whatever it is a nasty little critter that digs into your skin and sucks your blood. Next is the flying insects like mosquitoes, bees, wasps or hornets any little flying bug that stings you. Spiders like black widows, brown recluse or tarantulas to name a few can also ruin your hike. Red ants can also be very annoying if you happen to sit on their ant pile. The main thing to think about on your hike is you want to avoid these bugs so your hike is enjoyable.

Protection against these bugs is the main thing to do to keep your hike enjoyable. One thing to do is where the proper clothing, including long pants, socks, long sleeve shirts and hats. I learned while doing research that wearing light colored clothing is a good idea so you can see ticks or other bugs on the clothing. Wearing bug spray on that clothing containing DEET repellent to help fend off ticks and mosquitoes. Avoiding tall grass and shaded wooded areas are a good way to avoid the ticks and mosquitoes. Watch where you put your hands and just pay attention to your area to avoid the hornets wasps and bees. Look before you sit down or walk to avoid those ant colonies to avoid the red ants. With a little preparation and common sense, you can protect yourself against many bug encounters.

There are things to do and not do if you have an encounter with one of these annoying bugs. Let us start with ticks; use rubbing alcohol around the area where the tick has inserted and then gently remove the tick with tweezers. Do your best to remove all of the tick and not leave any part in your skin and then thoroughly clan the area of removal. If you are worried about Lyme disease, you can put the tick in a small container or between a sticky substance like tape to preserve for testing at your local health department. If you get stung by a mosquito it is mostly annoying but do not itch the area and pay attention for signs of the west Nile virus other than that some calamine lotion will help with the itchiness. Bee, hornet or wasp stings should be treated with soap, water, and ice to control swelling. Same thing with ant bites just make sure to clean the area well and then ice if necessary.

Other things to consider with any of these bugs is allergic reactions and your furry friend. If you or anyone hiking with you has allergies to bee stings make sure to get them medical attention quickly. If you or anyone you are hiking with are bit by a spider rapid medical attention might be necessary as well. If you are hiking with your four-legged friend pay attention to ticks as they are much more susceptible to gathering up those little critters. Long-term effects of Lyme disease can be very debilitating so paying attention to any tick bites and getting them tested is important fortunately, there is a promising study on a vaccine against Lyme disease.

Enjoy your hike but lookout for bugs that could make the day miserable.

photo taken by the author on a hike in Montana

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