Ticks are small insects similar to spiders. They attach to the skin of people and animals, and feed on their blood. Ticks can carry harmful infections and pass them on while feeding. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, relapsing fever, and tularemia. Ticks can be hard to see and feel—and remove—when they attach to you. So it’s important to prevent ticks from attaching in the first place. Fortunately, there are several simple steps you can take to avoid tick bites. 1. Avoid Areas Where Ticks Live Ticks live on and around moist vegetation in many areas in the United States, including the coasts, the Midwest, and western states. To avoid ticks, stay away from brush, tall grasses, bushes, and low trees—especially in wet, humid or shaded areas. If you’re walking in the woods, stay toward the middle of the trail. If you picnic or camp, pick spots in dry, sunny clearings with very low grass. 2. Clear Your Lawn Ticks can crawl from everyday objects onto your skin and then attach. In your yard, keep lawn furniture, garden ornaments, hammocks, children’s outdoor toys, and playground equipment away from vegetation. Dispose of garden clippings and raked leaves as soon as you gather them. And discourage deer from lingering in your yard. Deer ticks carry Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease. 3. Spray Your Skin and Clothes Spray insect repellent on your clothes and any exposed skin before you go to areas where ticks live. This includes spraying hats and shoes. The repellent should have at least 20-30% DEET. Closely follow the directions on the repellent’s packaging, and re-apply as often as the directions recommend. A repellant containing permethrin is also available, but you can only apply it to your clothes. Don’t apply it to your skin. Permethrin adds a second layer of protection that may last through several washings. 4. Wear Light-Colored and Long Clothes Wear clothes that are long and light-colored. Ticks are dark-colored, so they’re easier to spot on white or very light-colored clothing than on dark clothing or skin. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, tall socks, and hats. Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants to provide further coverage. And check your clothes often. Ticks that land on your clothes will crawl upwards in search of exposed skin. 5. Check Your Pets and Equipment Backpacks, hiking equipment, and pets can all carry ticks into your home. Once there, the ticks can later attach to you. When you come home from wooded areas, check everyone and everything that came with you, and remove any ticks that may have hitched a ride. And consider using a tick control product on your pet. Talk with your veterinarian about which ones are best for your furry friend. 6. Use Your Dryer If you don’t plan to wash clothes and other items after returning from outings in wooded areas, use your dryer. Put your clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, and other dryable items in the dryer on high heat for an hour. The heat will kill any ticks that have attached to those items. 7. Take a Shower and Check Your Body Once your clothes are in the dryer, jump in the shower to shampoo and scrub down. Before you get dressed, check your whole body for ticks. They’ll be easier to spot on clean, dry skin. Be sure to check behind and in your ears, around your hairline, the back of your neck, in your bellybutton, and around patches of hair and folds of skin.