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Tick from Wyoming

This is what a tick looks like. They are approximately 1/4" long. This tick arrived home as a hitchhiker after an outing walking through the sagebrush in the hills near Big Piney over Memorial Day weekend, late May 2005. Ticks are very small and can be easily missed. This tick is magnified many times larger than actual size for visualization purposes.


Ticks pass diseases on to other animal species, and there are many diseases that ticks can carry and pass on to humans.

In Wyoming, tick season lasts from early spring (mid-March) until about mid-July.

How to remove a tick

Picture of a tick actual size



One of the more unpleasant aspects of recreating outdoors is finding a tick on your person after getting home. Ticks pass diseases on to other animal species, and Ticks are small. This tick and penny are approximately 4X actual size.  Pinedale Online photo.there are many diseases that ticks can carry and pass on to humans. Anyone who has had tick fever, or has known someone who has had it, knows how this tiny creature can make your life miserable and the importance of checking for ticks after outings. Tick fever can bring a healthy, grown man to their knees feeling deathly ill for two weeks. Under the most severe cases, kidney failure and death can occur. Ticks don't attach right away, and once they do and start dining, they are more easily found because they get so much larger. These little bugs are not to be taken at all lightly, or the possibility of getting tick fever dismissed as remote. It is very important to do full body examination before jumping in the shower at the end of the day after an outing here in western Wyoming.

Ticks are not insects. They are obligatory parasites that require blood meals in order to develop. It is important to remove a tick as soon as possible after detection to minimize the transmission of diseases.

Ticks are small and often not felt crawling on your body. They can easily go undetected for long periods of time, long enough to embed themselves for a meal and cause trouble. It is important for anyone recreating outdoors to check themselves, children and pets carefully for ticks when they get home. Ticks are small and like to hide, so inspection of hair and every nook and crany on the body is important. Clothing worn during the outing should be immediately put in the wash.

Ticks are known to be disease carriers for:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 
Colorado Tick Fever 
Tularemia (commonly known as "rabbit fever")
Lyme Disease

Ticks like to crawl up on low vegetation and wait for people or animals to brush up Embedded tickagainst them. In Wyoming, they are common in the open sagebrush flats and can be easily picked up by walking through the brush. People walking through the brush out antler hunting in the spring will likely come home with an extra tick passenger. Ticks are also common in the forest. Hikers and fishermen should check for ticks after any outing.

Ticks become aroused by the odor and breathing of any nearby host and transfer to humans or animals by stretching their legs toward the host. Ticks do not fly or jump but crawl slowly. Ticks seldom attach to hosts for several hours after contact. Tick season lasts from the onset of warmer weather in the spring until about mid-July when warmer weather and low relative humidity cause the ticks to become inactive.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a serious, generalized infection that is usually spread to people by the bite of infected ticks. The disease gets its name from the Rocky Mountain area where it was first identified. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is found throughout the United States, except in Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii. Despite the name, few cases are reported from the Rocky Mountain region. Most cases occur in the southeastern United States. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is spread by the American dog tick, the lone-star tick, and the wood tick, all of which like to live in wooded areas and tall, grassy fields. The disease is most common in the spring and summer when these ticks are active, but it can occur anytime during the year when the weather is warm. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not spread from person to person, except rarely by blood transfusion.  Symptoms usually begin 3 to 12 days after a tick bite. Without prompt medical care, kidney failure and shock can lead to death. Rocky Mountain spotted fever must be treated with antibiotics. Many persons with the disease need to be hospitalized.

The disease is limited to the western U.S. and is most prevalent during March to August during the tick season. The incubation period is 3 to 6 days. Symptoms of fever continue for 3 days, then abate and recur 1 to 3 days later for another few days. Risk factors are recent outdoor activity and recent tick bite. The incidence is 4 out of 100,000 people. 

How to remove a Tick
Use tweezers to remove a tick. (USFDA graphic)
The best way to remove a tick is with fine-pointed tweezers. Grab as closely to the skin as possible and pull straight back, using steady but gentle force. 

  • If at all possible, do not use your fingers to remove the tick.
  • It is important to remove the tick completely, including the mouthpart and the cement the tick has secreted to secure attachment. Improper tick removal may cause mouthparts to break off in the skin, possibly leading to infection.
  • Do not twist the tick, which can cause breakage, leaving mouth parts in your skin. Twisting off the head should be avoided, because this may cause the tick's potentially infectious body fluids to escape. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (saliva, body fluids, gut contents) may contain infectious organisms.
  • Do not crush, prick, or burn the tick, which may cause it to salivate or regurgitate infected fluids. 
  • Do not try to smother the tick with products such as petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Ticks can store enough oxygen to complete feeding. 
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Save the tick for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.
Limiting exposure to ticks is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of tick bites. Careful inspection and removal of crawling or attached ticks is an important method of preventing tick-borne diseases. It may take several hours of attachment before organisms are transmitted from  the tick to the host. 

Folklore remedies, such as the use of petroleum jelly or hot matches, do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and stimulating it to release additional saliva or regurgitate gut contents, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen. These methods of tick removal should be avoided. A number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine tipped tweezers.


  • Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to see ticks that are crawling on your clothing. 
  • Tuck your pants legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pants legs. 
  • Apply repellants to discourage tick attachment. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing, and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET (n, n-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, but will last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary. Use DEET with caution on children. Application of large amounts of DEET on children has been associated with adverse reactions. 
  • Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks.
  • Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Remove any tick you find on your body. 
  • Parents should check their children for ticks, especially in the hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas. 
  • Additionally, ticks may be carried into the household on clothing and pets.  Both should be examined carefully.
Kill the tick by stepping on it. Place the dead tick in a sealed container or small plastic bag and deposit in the trash.. Do not flush live ticks down the toilet because they can easily survive in the water.

Web sites with more information:
US Food & Drug Administration-Tick Information
Center of Disease Control-Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Pictures of ticks
Ticks and Livestock in Wyoming

“The best way to remove a tick is with fine-pointed tweezers. Grab as closely to the skin as possible and pull straight back, using steady but gentle force. ”


Bridger-Teton National Forest/Pinedale Ranger District
29 E. Fremont Lake Road
P.O. Box 220
Pinedale, WY 82941
(307) 367-4326

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315 South Front Street
P.O. Box 218
Big Piney, WY, 83113
Fax: 307-276-5835

Bureau of Land Management
Pinedale Field Office
432 East Mill Street
PO Box 768
Pinedale, WY 82941
Phone: 307.367.5300
Fax: 307.367.5329
7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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P.O. Box 176
Pinedale, WY 82941
888-285-7282 (Toll Free)

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