Being Nature-Safe means respecting wildlife, being aware of the living things around you, and knowing how to properly prepare for the outdoors so you can avoid unpleasant experiences. In addition to wearing proper footwear and sunscreen, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself from plants and insects that might dampen your experience.
Ticks can spread disease, including Lyme disease. The ticks that spread Lyme disease can be found in every county in Wisconsin. Not all tick bites will make you sick, but it is still important to take steps to protect yourself and your family while enjoying time outdoors.
Remember, ticks need to be attached for 24 to 48 hours before the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are actually transmitted. It is key to remove the tick within the first 24 hours to prevent infection.
Wild parsnip is a highly invasive plant and if ignored can spread rapidly, developing into large monocultures that replace native animal and plant habitat. The plant sap contains toxic chemicals that are activated by sunlight and can cause serious burns and blisters to human skin after contact. Avoid touching parsnip and if you do, wash the sap off your skin quickly to avoid burns. Dane County Parks uses timed mowing to cut wild parsnip within the parks. If wild parsnip is cut just prior to going to seed it may not grow back again, if it does, it is mowed again. If this process is repeated over a five years it’s has been shown to remove the plants and the seedbank.
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac are plants that can cause a red, itchy rash if you touch or brush up against any part of the plant, including leaves, stems, flowers, berries, and roots, even if the plant is dead. You can also get a rash if you touch anything that has come in contact with these plants, such as clothing, sporting gear, gardening tools, or pet fur.