Can Ticks Bite Through Clothing?

As warmer months roll in, outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners, and anyone enjoying the great outdoors should be aware of ticks - tiny creatures that may carry diseases such as Lyme disease. A common question that arises is: Can ticks bite through clothing?

The Short Answer

The straightforward answer is no; ticks cannot technically bite through clothing. Their method of attaching to hosts requires direct skin contact because they need to find a suitable spot to latch on firmly. However, this doesn't mean that wearing clothes makes you invulnerable to tick bites. Ticks are cunning and patient, finding their way to exposed skin by crawling under or around the edges of clothing.

Understanding Tick Behavior

Ticks don't jump or fly. Instead, they use a behavior known as "questing" - waiting on the tips of grasses and shrubs with their legs outstretched, ready to climb onto any host that brushes past. Once on a host, they tend to move upwards towards warmer areas before settling in to feed.

How Clothing Can Help

While ticks can't bite through clothing, the type clothing can significantly impact your risk of getting bitten:

  • Light Colors: Opting for light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks before they find their way to your skin.
  • Proper Coverage: Long sleeves and pants, with pants tucked into socks, can create a physical barrier that's more challenging for ticks to navigate.
  • Insect Repellent Clothing: Insect Shield clothing comes pre-treated with permethrin, an insect repellent that's very effective against ticks. You can also treat your clothing and gear with permethrin yourself.

Prevention Is Key

Despite ticks' inability to bite through clothing, they can still pose a risk by getting under clothes or being carried home on them. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Perform Regular Tick Checks: After being outdoors, especially in areas known for ticks, thoroughly check your body and clothes for ticks.
  • Treat Pets: Pets can carry ticks into the house. Make sure they are treated to repel ticks.
  • Wear Permethrin-Treated Clothing: Opt for Insect Shield tick repellent clothing such as socks and pants. The repellency is invisible and odorless making it easy to wear while enjoying the outdoors. 
  • Spray Your Shoes with Permethrin: Tick expert, Dr. Thomas Mather recommends spraying your shoes with permethrin once a month during tick season. 


While ticks cannot bite through clothing, they can still find their way to your skin if given the opportunity. Wearing the right kind of clothing and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of tick bites. As you enjoy the outdoors, stay vigilant and informed about the best practices to protect yourself and your loved ones from ticks and the diseases they may carry.

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