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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Things seemed to be going OK with riding on trails near the beginning of the Spring.

Not too long into the season I started hearing a lot of reports on our local trail conditions pages about there being a larger than usual number of ticks this season due to an exceptionally warm & wet winter.

As a result, I started emphasizing basic precautions with my kids (wearing long pants / thin long sleeves, not straying from the trail into tall grassy areas, doing a cursory check for ticks after rides, etc.).

Not long after my 6yo started expressing a lot of reluctance to go out on trails and I discovered much of the reason was that he's anxious about ticks (despite never actually seeing ticks or having an issue with them ourselves yet).

We've done a lot more riding in the local neighborhoods this season and he's made a lot of progress in lifting the front end of his bike, plowing over obstacles, & starting to work on jumping, so it's not like he's stopped riding or isn't making progress -- when we have gone out on the trails, he's been more than capable of handling pretty much anything we try and seems to have fun.

Anyone encounter anything similar with their kids or have any ideas on getting past the anxiety?
 

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How about making 2 check lists, one for pre ride and during ride precautions to review. Then a post ride check list of precautions and steps (check each body part etc…) to ensure tick-safety. This could be empowering and help make you kid feel like he is doing something positive instead of feeling reactionary/ scared. Best of luck!
 

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The only time I worry about ticks is if I'm riding a really narrow trail where I'm brushing up against a lot of growth and most of the trails I ride aren't like that. I was surprised to read there are a lot of ticks around me (GA) but I haven't had one on me in decades (knock on wood). But when I was a kid, I used to find them a lot, probably from the dogs. I think Monty has a good idea and Shark may be right, he may be afraid the bite will hurt.
 

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As a result, I started emphasizing basic precautions with my kids (wearing long pants / thin long sleeves, not straying from the trail into tall grassy areas, doing a cursory check for ticks after rides, etc.).
As any parent knows, kids are amazing at picking up on things that we talk about or emphasize as important. Your son is probably anxious because you have made ticks 'a thing'. My son had similar concerns when he was a child and heard his mom and I discussing money and budgets. He would ask if we had enough money when we went out to eat, etc. You should try minimizing to your son the whole issue of ticks. I live in a tick heavy area and have dealt with them for years on myself, family, dogs, etc. They are not the worst thing out there despite the media hoopla that would have some believe instant sickness is inevitable if you get a tick bite. Without stopping basic precautions you mentioned, don't make a big deal out of the whole thing either. If he doesn't sense fear or concern from you he may start to feel at ease himself. BTW I'm not a trained psychologist but I did stay at a Holiday Inn.
 

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Get a dog that loves to run through the woods. Ticks will become so mundane, nobody will care.

But seriously, tick precautions (repellent, stay out of overgrowth) and hard and fast rules for quick checks after time in the woods is the best you can do.

You’re going to set the example for how to deal with something like ticks. You freak out and seem worried, kids will feed off that fear. If you handle it matter of factly and stay calm and nonchalant if you find a tick they will pick up on that energy.
 

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I have a bit of a phobia of them as well so I can understand but thankfully we don't have them in the high Sierras and the desert, the other place I ride. I have a friend who got Lyme and it ruined her health so it's a legit thing. That said, living in fear never gets us anywhere. For kids, I agree with the one suggestion someone posted about getting a repellant and telling your kids how good it is. He son usually responds well to something like that. Permethrin is one I think. Check out this guy's video. He's quirky but has some interesting tips from someone who spends his time in the thick of it. He states they only crawl up and how he catches them in the clothing is interesting.

 

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Then you can get the kid worrying about the potential mutagenic properties of DEET.
How exactly are you applying DEET? I would strongly advise not drinking it.

Seriously, though, DEET levels in most standard repellents are quite low and may cause some minor skin irritation if left on long enough, but that's about it. Those with high levels of DEET are the same, but as long as you follow the directions and don't go crazy soaking yourself in DEET, you chances of having a negative reaction are low.

We were always advised in the military when using DEET to just spray it on our uniform prior to getting dressed to keep it from coming in skin contact.

Here's a fact sheet on DEET, it's been around since 1946 and there is no evidence to show DEET causes cancer.

.
 

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The ticks are out there, but it's nothing that can't be handled with some bug repellent.
I recently stopped to take video of a deer. It did not see me ride up because I was plowing through handlebar-high grass. For the 3 minutes that I stood still, I did not get even 1 tick.

However, I stopped later to take another pic, and I was standing in some rotting wood chips for about 15 seconds and picked up 8 ticks. I brushed them off before they took hold.

So, if they are there, they will find you. So just use bug repellent.

-F
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was just browsing home Lyme Disease antigen test kits an hour ago.

This is your friend (I got it for the dogs, but it works for pulling ticks off you and your kids as well:
(Tick Twister Image)
Haven't needed to use it, but we do have a tick twister in the first aid kit I carry on our rides.

Alpha Gal syndrome is actually as worrying to me as Lyme, since there's really no treatment. Fortunately only seems to be on the west side of our state so far and the lone star ticks that carry it haven't found there way around here yet:

Where I probably messed up was discussing it with my wife in front of him -- the idea that there are ticks that could leave you permanently allergic to burgers & bacon is probably much scarier to him than the idea of being sore & tired all the time.

But seriously, tick precautions (repellent, stay out of overgrowth) and hard and fast rules for quick checks after time in the woods is the best you can do.

You're going to set the example for how to deal with something like ticks. You freak out and seem worried, kids will feed off that fear. If you handle it matter of factly and stay calm and nonchalant if you find a tick they will pick up on that energy.
I do try to be pretty calm about things, but there's also likely to be some residual anxiety levels from COVID. Since that's one of the few other things that he knows about taking precautions for, my guess is that the seriousness of the two in his mind are somewhat conflated.
 

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it's super rare for me to pick up ticks from hiking or riding.

the vast majority of ticks I find come from the dog, because the dog LOVES getting into the brush on the side of the trail, sniffing for cool stuff. he gets his tick prevention, but that only does anything if the ticks actually bite him. if they move off of him into the car, or the tent, then the ticks can find others.

So tick checks are your primary defense, regardless of whatever else you do. Get into the habit, and teach your kids about them. Treating your clothes with permethrin is also high on the list if you encounter them. it's also worth noting that more ppl get ticks around their homes than they do in the woods. And there are ways to address that.

"Tick Tubes" help interrupt the life cycle of ticks (and the diseases they transmit). The DIY method is this: soak a bunch of cotton balls in permethrin. cut some lengths of pvc pipe about the size of toilet paper rolls. Stuff the pipe bits with treated cotton balls and put them in your yard/gardens where the local rodents might find them. The rodents take the treated cotton balls for bedding, and sleeping on treated bedding kills the ticks they might be carrying. this will dramatically reduce the tick population in your yard in a couple years, and interrupt the life cycle of a lot of tick-borne diseases.

It's not exactly practical to do this out on the trails, but they're much lower risk places than your yard in most areas.
 

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Alpha Gal syndrome is actually as worrying to me as Lyme, since there's really no treatment. Fortunately only seems to be on the west side of our state so far and the lone star ticks that carry it haven't found there way around here yet:

Where I probably messed up was discussing it with my wife in front of him -- the idea that there are ticks that could leave you permanently allergic to burgers & bacon is probably much scarier to him than the idea of being sore & tired all the time.
Could very well be a part of it. Are you in NC? I know that folks in WNC occasionally turn up with Alpha-gal syndrome, but interestingly enough the ones I hear about are usually down near Hendersonville, less so up in the mtns. The only ticks I've encountered in WNC so far are dog ticks, so I think the Lone Star ticks must seek fairly specific conditions.

I have a bunch of Tick Keys that I keep all over the place.

Tick Removal Tool For Pets & Humans | TickKey International Inc. - The Original TickKey™
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Could very well be a part of it. Are you in NC? I know that folks in WNC occasionally turn up with Alpha-gal syndrome, but interestingly enough the ones I hear about are usually down near Hendersonville, less so up in the mtns. The only ticks I've encountered in WNC so far are dog ticks, so I think the Lone Star ticks must seek fairly specific conditions.
Michigan, actually -- growing up ticks never seemed to be much of an issue here, but with things warming up the past few summers (especially this summer), they're becoming more prevalent.
 
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