When I hunt grouse I usually wear hip waders to be able to cross small creeks and to not get my pants wet from dew.

My problem is that I get a lot of junk collected in my waders, and specifically I'm concerned about ticks.

What should I wear to avoid this problem?

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Ticks can attach anywhere, in particular, they will find spots like the back of your knee, around waistbands, under armpits, undergarment straps or any other constricted place.

  1. Firstly, prefer to wear the clothing which is already treated for tick prevention by means of some tick repellent solution. The solution is supposed to contain Permethrin. Spray shoes, boots, socks, pants, sleeves, gloves, kerchief, and hat. Keep the sprayed items away from your pets (if any) for their own safety. Insecticide and Pest control Products that contain Permethrin are only for spraying on clothes and gear and not to be sprayed on human/animal skin or any external use on the skin in diluted form either. The wiki about Permethrin does say that Permethrin is used in medicines but that is in a different context from what is being discussed here.
  2. Wear long pants. Preferably light-colored. That will make spotting a tick easy. It may look a bit odd, but do tuck pants into socks.
  3. Wear long sleeved shirts. Tuck shirt into pants. This will prevent a tick from crawling under clothing.
  4. Use the long socks with good elastic, or they may slip downwards exposing your skin. Else, you can tape them as shown in pic:

    enter image description here

  5. Wear a bandanna and/or hat to protect your neck and head.

As a side-note: If you at all doubtful that you still have ticks on your body, have a quick shower and examine your body with a mirror. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

  • 2
    A shower is a great advice. I tend to find ticks even without a mirror, but by touch. Only exception is when the tick has managed to fully bury, but then it's easy to find, because the place becomes red and itchy. – Vorac Oct 6 '14 at 12:00
  • @Vorac: Yeah, that makes sense, but I so far have never risked to wait till it managed to bury itself into the skin, causing the itchy and reddish skin. You never know what that might lead to :-) So, a quick shower and a body check with a mirror does help a lot. – WedaPashi Oct 6 '14 at 12:14
  • 1
    Know that products against ticks containing DEET should specially NOT be sprayed on clothing or shoes. These can badly damage or dissolve your material. – Sdry Oct 6 '14 at 12:23
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    @WedaPashi Permethrin should not be used on skin; it's also dangerously toxic to cats and aquatic life, so you must take care when applying it. (Once the spray has dried onto the clothes it's OK.) – requiem Oct 6 '14 at 16:01
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    A note of caution regarding permethrin: It is toxic to cats. I have cats at my house, so my choice is limited to DEET. – orangejewelweed Oct 6 '14 at 18:22

I think it's good to wear long clothes and close all small entry spots through the layers. You can also use some repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) for your skin and permethrin for your clothes. But for hunting and also if you're doing some sport or work it's normal that you can't protect yourself 100% from tick bites.

I think the most important part is to examine yourself every time you were exposed in a tick area. The most diseases are not transmitted until the head of the tick is in your body. So you should have at least one day to remove the tick properly.

To remove a tick follow this instruction from CDC.

  • The problem with wearing long pants is that you cannot feel them as they begin their climb up your leg. If you wear shorts, you can feel them and remove them before they get comfortable and burrow in. – Glenn Meyer Aug 8 at 14:02

As @wedapashi already stated, permethrin is a very good choice. And even though it's an insecticide, I find it works well as a repellent also. I treat all my clothing (even socks and underwear) and gear. I can't even remember the last time I found a tick on me. Even keeps the mosquitoes away.

Once dry, it's safe for all animals (except insects).

Permethrin is not new. It's a synthetic version of what's found naturally in marigolds (pyrethrin). It's currently used by the military when washing uniforms, and also sprayed on orchards and farm livestock.

You can buy it in small aerosol cans ($$$), or buy it concentrated on Amazon ($) and use a garden sprayer to dilute & apply it.

I would avoid using DEET if at all possible. DEET is toxic even to us. If you do use DEET, don't use anything greater than 20-30%. Higher concentrations DO NOT provide more protection, but may melt any plastics you have on you, and/or remove any paint (latex) that may be hit when spraying.

  • Hi! I don't want to argue but it has been determined that there is no safe level of permethrin around cats, even if clothes and skin are dry. It's not safe on dogs if there's a cat in the house which might play with the dog. I don't have time to write a full answer, but wanted to make that clear. Permethrin poisoning in cats is reported as frequently as DEET poisoning to animal organizations. My vet has seen far too many fatalities from permethrin and other approved insecticides. She and her family fish and use only citronella oil. It's safe and effective. – Sue Aug 8 at 21:57
  • Have to agree to disagree. Almost every single page says it's safe once it dries. It actually binds to the material, which is why it still works even after washing. "Unfortunately, the most common way a cat is exposed is due to owner error. Some cat owners mistakenly or purposely apply a dog flea and tick product (a high concentration pyrethrin/pyrethroid product) to their cats." outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/15740/… vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/… But thank you for your input. – Tom Collins Aug 10 at 0:03
  • Thanks for the response Tom. No problem about agreeing to disagree! My vet gave me a bunch of information and I shouldn't have mentioned it until I was ready to write an answer. It's also heavily on the cautious side, because it's from cat-protection organizations and her veterinary experience, so we might not be too far off from each other! – Sue Aug 10 at 23:06
  • As for the other issue you mentioned, it happened to a friend of mine a few years ago, and was devastating! She had three dogs and three cats. She had the correct products, but accidentally gave the dog doses to the cats and vice versa. The dogs were fine but within an hour all three cats died. She still carries the guilt. I don't mean to be "chatty" and can delete this. I just wrote it to validate the importance of the information from the link you posted! – Sue Aug 10 at 23:19

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