Where they hang out: The black-legged tick that spreads Lyme disease is common in the Northeast and the upper Midwest, where it hangs out in the woods, looking to feed on the exposed skin of hikers.
What attracts them: They want your blood. Ticks can burrow only their mouth parts into skin, so they secrete a gluelike substance to lock themselves in, hang around for 48 to 72 hours engorging themselves, and then drop off.
Their kryptonite: The best defense is not letting them near skin. In the woods, wear light-colored long pants (tucked into socks), long sleeves, and a hat so ticks are easy to spot. Use repellent with DEET on exposed skin and permethrin on clothes.
What else you need to know: After a walk in the woods, check any exposed skin for ticks; they are tiny enough to get through socks, so also inspect feet. If you do find one, remove it slowly with a tweezer. See a doctor if you develop a bull’s-eye–shaped rash or flu-like symptoms.