Tip #9: Stay in the middle of trails

Humans learn how to walk on their own when they’re about 14 months old but it takes a public health entomologist to offer guidance on how best to walk on a trail to avoid ticks. One way to think about trails is as a pathway–from the safety of the parking lot or open space–heading deeper into tick habitat. Nymph- and larval-stage ticks will more commonly be encountered in the leaf litter that accumulates on the sides of trails than in the middle of the trail; adult-stage ticks are commonly shin-to-knee high on tall grasses and other low vegetation at the trail edge just waiting for a host to pass by. We’re not saying there are no ticks in the middle of trails, just typically far fewer. By hiking in the middle of the path, you’re less likely to get lost, damage plants, cause erosion, run into poison ivy, or pick up ticks.