Ticks are little critters that run wild in spring, especially in dry areas. They are sneaky little bugs which can bring about serious long-term health problems if not caught in time. 

An Albertan tick found on Grotto Mountain near Canmore on March 10.  Photo Crista-Lee Mitchell

An Albertan tick found on Grotto Mountain near Canmore on March 10. Photo Crista-Lee Mitchell

In Canada, we have approximately 40 species of tick, but fortunately, only a few of them can transmit Lyme disease. Ticks are small arachnids;  ectoparasites which live by feeding on the blood of animals.

Canada is home to many species of ticks, but the Ixodes Tick – more often known as the “black-legged” or “deer” tick – is the most common Lyme-carrier.


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Ixodes ticks
-Have hard-shelled brown and black bodies, but appear greyish when engorged and some times are confused with a skin tag
-Have eight legs as adults, but baby ticks have only six
-Are one to five millimetres  long, but adults can grow up to 20 mm when feeding


Nearly all of Canada’s crags have ticks at some time during the year, some crags have more than others. In Skaha, it is common to have five to ten ticks on you by the end of the day.

Ticks are all sorts of trouble. Their effects on human health are not well understood or tested for in Canada. Sometimes the person who has been bit has a headache, nausea or fatigue for one to five days, sometimes a few weeks, sometimes a few months.

The Tick Check!

After every climbing session, be sure to strip down and check.

Especially the back of the head, armpits, and other warm areas.

Shake your clothes, they love hiding in packs and  other loose-wear on the ground.

Check you partners!

Check your pets!

Lyme disease

Diagnosing Lyme disease is challenging. Lyme victims are commonly misdiagnosed with other illnesses, and, when a proper diagnosis is made, it’s often difficult to verify because accurate testing isn’t available.

There are no commercially available blood culture tests for Lyme in Canada.

Early treatment of Lyme disease is critical, however Lyme is very difficult to diagnose because symptoms vary from person to person. There are over 100 known symptoms of Lyme disease.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease include:
-Developing a rash, sometimes shaped like a “bull’s eye” mark.
-Initial flu-like symptoms, such as: fever, headache, nausea, jaw pain, light sensitivity, red eyes, muscle aches and neck stiffness.
-While some Lyme victims experience immediate symptoms after infection, others may have none for many months.

For safe tick removal, visit the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation.