Creepy crawlies and outdoor safety in Utah area

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Channing Benedict
  • Hill AFB Public Health
Summer is a great time for outdoor adventures like camping, hiking and boating. Caution should be used to avoid nature's hazards. Ticks are most active in the summer months, and are plentiful in Utah's mountain ranges and canyons.

The Rocky Mountain wood tick and American dog tick are most commonly found in Utah. Steer clear of woody, bushy areas with high grass. Ticks tend to stay by edges of treelines or where high grass meets a walkway or path.

Before you go out for a nice hike be sure to put insect repellant with DEET on all your exposed skin and treat clothing, backpacks and any hiking gear with insect repellant containing permethrin.

After your adventure in the mountains is over, it is best to have a buddy check you for ticks. If you happen to find one, the best way to remove it is: Use fine-tipped tweezers, grasp as close to the tick's mouthparts as possible and pull upwards with steady pressure. Avoid using home remedies such as burning the tick with a match or painting the tick with nail polish. You might accidently burn yourself or irritate the tick, causing it to spit its blood meal back into your body. Remove the tick out of your skin as quickly as possible to avoid disease transmission such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Other creepy crawlers you should be on the lookout for this summer are spiders. The hobo spider is the most common spider found in Northern Utah.

This is both an indoor and outdoor spider. They can be found in areas such as log piles, rock piles, and holes, where tall grass meets the foundation or crevices in soil and concrete where they can make their characteristic funnel shaped webs. Hobo spiders are large and brown with a distinct pattern of yellow markings on its abdomen.

The most poisonous spider to humans found in Utah is the black widow. Bites may be fatal to young children or older adults. They spend the majority of their time in their webs but are drawn to wood surfaces so bites tend to occur when cleaning the garage, shed and areas around the exterior of the house. They can be identified by the pattern of red coloration, known as an hourglass, on the underside of their abdomen. The best thing to do with spiders is avoid them! Wear protective clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, a hat, gloves and boots when hiking or working in the yard.

Stay safe and enjoy your summer. For more information on vectorborne diseases or insects in your area please visit or contact the Public Health office at DSN 586-9546/9549.