Campus News

Protect yourself from outdoor pests

Being familiar with common pests and being prepared can make outdoor experiences more enjoyable and less itchy-scratchy, said Paul Pugliese, agriculture and natural resources agent for the Cooperative Extension office in Cherokee County.

The three most miserable pests in the Southeast are poison ivy (and its relatives poison oak and sumac), ticks and chiggers.

Knowing how to avoid these common pests is the best defense. Children should be taught at an early age what poison ivy looks like. The old saying, “Leaves of three? Let it be!” is a good rule to follow.

Poison ivy comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be found alongside even the best maintained park trails. Avoid touching it at any cost. It commonly grows along trails, so long pants and closed-toed shoes are recommended when walking along rugged trails.

Ticks and chiggers prefer tall, grassy or weedy areas. If you must travel into these unmaintained areas, wear long pants and apply a repellent containing the active ingredients DEET or permethrin, which are available in many brands.

Check yourself for ticks at least twice a day. There is evidence that the longer an infected tick feeds, the greater the chance it has of transmitting a disease. Take a bath or shower and soap repeatedly to help remove chiggers and ticks. After returning from the outside, launder field clothes in soapy, hot water that is at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit for half an hour.