A Walk in the WoodsThere’s nothing like a walk in the woods or a fun camping trip in the summer. The leafy shade of a wooded park or path is so inviting! But we do recommend that you go into the woods prepared. Remember – you are venturing into the natural habitat of insects and other creatures. Some basic knowledge and preparedness may help you stay in harmony with nature.
Snakes: The woods contain both venomous and non-venomous snakes. It’s important to know the difference! Check out a basic field guide of common snakes in your area and learn how to spot what you’ve got. Some major differences to look for on a poisonous snake include an elliptical pupil, a pit between the eye and the nostril and undivided scales on the underside of its tail. At a bare minimum, learn to recognize a Copperhead and Timber rattlesnake.
Ticks: At this point, it’s common knowledge that ticks spread Lyme Disease, which poses a serious neurological risk to its victims. Use of a good insect repellant is an absolute must in the summertime if you’re trekking through a wooded area. Periodically check yourself for ticks and remove them as quickly as possible. You should also check your pets and clothes for ticks – they can hitchhike on articles and attach after you are out of the woods.
Spiders: Know how to identify the Brown Recluse Spider – it is brown and the marking on its back resembles a violin. The Black Widow is another spider to avoid. It is shaped like an hourglass and has a red, orange or white spot. A good way to avoid these creatures is to wear gloves when you’re gathering firewood for your campfire. Also, check bedding for these critters before settling down for the night.
Yellow Jackets: You may not think about yellow jackets being a danger in the woods, but they nest in the woods and area also attracted to campgrounds and picnics. Yellow jackets tend to be aggressive and an attack can be sudden and concerted. Take care around garbage cans and hollowed-out trees. Realize that they will attack you if they believe the nest to be in danger.
Safety is key! Know your environment and take the necessary precautions to stay safe this summer.