Fall is a beautiful time of year to go hiking – colorful fall foliage is on display, there’s wildlife to see, and the cooler air is perfect for a comfortable stroll. This fun, healthy, and affordable outdoor activity is great for families and groups of friends or even solo trekking. However, hiking often takes place in areas that offer ideal conditions for pests in the form of foliage, lots of places to hide, humid air, and more. Our crash course on pest “watch-outs” will help you, your family, and friends stay safe on the trail.
- Always wear insect repellents with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered active ingredient (Check out the EPA’s handy guide to choosing the right repellent for you)
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Wear light-colored clothes to make it easier to see insects on the outside of your clothes.
- Tuck pants into socks to keep ticks and other insects from getting inside your pant legs.
- Wear a hat to keep insects off of your head.
- Inspect backpacks, sleeping bags, or other items for any hidden pests upon return from your hike.
- After your hike, take a shower and check your body head-to-toe for ticks.
Mosquito and tick prevention tips:
- Hike on open, sunny trails rather than in shady, protected forests.
- Walk in the center of the trails and avoid walking through tall grasses/bushes.
- Conduct a full-body check for ticks and bathe/shower within 2 hours of your return.
Preventing spider bites:
- Never reach someplace that you cannot see – under rocks, into holes, around branches.
- Shake out clothes, gloves, hats, and boots before putting them on.
- Look before you sit down or lean against a tree to rest.
- Cabins and lean-tos are favorite hideouts for spiders. Sweep thoroughly before setting up camp, being sure to investigate and sweep under and around bed frames.
Stay safe from stinging insects:
- Many stinging insects become more aggressive in the fall.
- Avoid perfume and scented lotions.
- Use sealed drink containers. Stinging pests can stealthily crawl into can openings and sting unsuspecting drinkers.
- Keep your food and garbage sealed in plastic bags.
- Be alert for nests in hollow trees, hanging from branches, under logs, and in the ground. If you hear concentrated buzzing, avoid the area.
- If someone in your party is allergic to insect bites and stings, take the proper medication with you on the trail, and seek proper medical attention immediately if someone is stung or bit.
Of course, common safety tips are often the best. Always inform family and friends about your trip and when you expect to return, especially if you’re traveling alone or in a small group. Take a cell phone with you, and research the area where you will be hiking to gain knowledge about possible natural dangers. With a little pre-preparation and pest knowledge, you can safely enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer while on your hike this season.