Planning a picnic, walk or outdoor activity in the magical New Forest?

Then listen up, because we’ve got some helpful information on how to avoid an encounter with one of the New Forest’s least lovely inhabitants – ticks!

Members of the arachnid family, ticks are tiny, spider-like insects the size of an apple pip, that feed on the blood of their host. Active all year round – but especially between March and October - they live in woodland or areas with longer grass and their favourite prey is deer, rabbits, rodents or even your pet dog, which they will hitch a ride on, when they feel the animal brush up against them.

Occasionally (they’re not fussy!) ticks like to feed off us. And that’s a problem because some of them carry a bacteria which can lead to the development of Lyme disease.

Prevention is better than cure, so here are some top tick tips for walking in the New Forest.

  • Tuck your shirt into your trousers and then your trousers into your socks and avoid open-toe shoes
  • Make sure those long-steeved shirts and trousers are in a light colour to up your chances of spotting a tick on them
  • Use a good insect repellent, follow its instructions, and avoid hiking on overgrown paths
  • Do a full body check, including the scalp, on you, your children and any pets after being outdoors and consider showering or having a bath

How will you know you’ve been bitten? Tick bites are usually painless so the first you may notice is a tiny black or brown insect on your skin or that of your pet.

Your first step should be to remove the tick.

Here’s what the NHS says about that:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool. You can buy these from some pharmacies, vets and pet shops
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible
  • Slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick. Dispose of it when you have removed it
  • Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water

If you can’t remove the tick or develop any of the following symptoms, see your GP and tell them you have visited an area in the past three months where ticks may be present.

Look out for:

  • A circular or oval-shaped rash around the skin area the tick was attached to – this can resemble the bullseye on a dartboard and can appear up to 3 months following the tick bite but usually within 1-4 months
  • A rash with a darker or lighter area in the middle that might spread or appear to be pink, or purple. Remember – on black or brown skin, this may be harder to see and resemble a bruise
  • Flu-like symptoms including high temperature, feeling hot or shivery, a headache, muscle or joint pain or tiredness and loss of energy
  • More information on tick awareness here: