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Ticks and Beaches

May contain: slope, shoreline, water, nature, sea, ocean, and outdoors

Have you seen the news about “ticks at the beach”? Researchers found ticks throughout California, including in grass and chaparral near beaches. Read on to find out about ticks near beaches in San Mateo County.

While ticks can be found on grass and shrubs near the beach, there are no ticks waiting for you on the sand of the beach. Our District staff (and many people who live along the coast!) have found ticks in coastal habitats for many years. These include areas of Año Nuevo State Park, Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail, and Wavecrest Open Space Preserve. (You can check out our tick findings HERE.)  A little knowledge about ticks and their habitats can go a long way towards keeping you safe.

In San Mateo County, the ticks found in the summer are usually American dog ticks and Pacific Coast ticks. These two kinds of ticks don’t carry the Lyme disease germ. These large brown ticks are fairly tolerant of hot and dry conditions. They are common just about everywhere there is tall grass and can even be found on dune grasses at the edge of some beach parking lots. Click HERE to learn more about identifying ticks.

In San Mateo County, the western black-legged tick is the tick that can spread Lyme disease. This tick is small, dark-colored, and usually found in tall grasses at the edge of trails. This tick can dry out quickly, and so it is usually active between November and April when the weather is not as dry. Sand is too hot and dry for this tick, but it may be on grass along the trails leading down to the shore. District tick testing has found the Lyme disease germ in less than 2% of adult ticks and 5% of nymphal ticks.

Follow these tips to stay tick-free during your next visit to the seaside:

  • Stay in the middle of the trail leading to and from the shore.
  • Avoid brushing up against any tall grasses that could be on either side of the trail.
  • Keep pets on a leash to try and keep them in the middle of the trail and from brushing against tall grass.
  • Once you are on the sand, you are in the clear!
  • When you get home, check yourself and pets for ticks. Check your scalp, armpits, back of the knee, or places where clothing pinches in like the sock line
  • If you find a tick on you, have no fear! They can be removed using a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool such as a “tick key”.
  • Removing a tick quickly (i.e. within 24-48 hours of the bite) greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission.


Page last reviewed: March 6, 2024

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