Environment

It’s Not Just the Holiday Season, It’s Tick Season

It’s that time of year again. No, not the holiday season—tick season.

That’s right. You may not know it, but in San Diego County, winter is tick season, and San Diego County’s Vector Control Program is reminding people to remember to wear insect repellent and take simple precautions like wearing long sleeves and long pants when hiking or heading out into nature.

“Our crews are already finding a lot of ticks out there,” said Chris Conlan, supervising vector ecologist. “And even though tick-related diseases are pretty rare in San Diego, nobody wants to be bitten, or have their kids or pets bitten.”

Ticks aren’t insects; they’re tiny arachnids, like spiders, scorpions and mites. They’re also parasites that like to bite into people and pets and suck blood to feed. You’re unlikely to find them in urbanized areas, but they’ll actually hunt you down if you hike into backcountry areas or even urban canyons.

Ticks hunt by “questing” to find hosts, crawling up onto blades of grass or brush, where they perch and thrust their hook-like front legs out into the air. When a person or animal grazes up against the grass or brush, the tick latches on and looks for a place to bite and feed.

Ticks can potentially spread a bunch of diseases, including Lyme disease, tularemia—also known as “rabbit fever”—and spotted fever illness. Several batches of ticks trapped earlier this year along Lopez Canyon Trail in Sorrento Valley tested positive for tularemia.

So, if you’re thinking of taking advantage of the cooler weather to get out and enjoy a nice trip into nature, here are some handy tips to help you protect yourself, your kids and your pets!

For more information about ticks go to the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health’s Tick Web page, and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tick Web page. You can also watch this County News Center TV video, “Tick Talk.”

Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact