Hug-a-Tree and Survive

An AdventureSmart program to help lost children survive in the woods.

Download colouring book (pdf)

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) is a common plant in Southwestern Ontario and it grows throughout Pinery Provincial Park (trails, campsites). Please review this information prior to your visit to the park and seek out Park Naturalists for further information once you arrive at Pinery. Poison Ivy is a woody plant that grows in three growth forms in Ontario, namely a low plant, a shrub and a climbing vine; the low plant and the climbing vine are known to be found in Pinery. Poison Ivy is a flowering plant with small greenish-white flowers blooming in spring and the plants bears small clusters of white berries throughout the year. It is important to recognize that all parts of the plant (roots, shoots, stems, leaves, vine) are covered in Urishiol Oil which causes an itchy skin reaction in most people. Dermatological reactions start a few days after exposure. People who develop a skin reaction should seek medical attention from their doctor.

Poison Ivy is easily identified and avoiding contact will prevent uncomfortable rashes. The plant has three leaves (on both the low plant and the vine). The two outer leaves are attached to the main stem of the plant, whereas the middle leaf has a small stem like an apple stalk. Leaf shape and size can vary, but generally the leaves have small rounded teeth at the margin.

If you are exposed to Poison Ivy, be sure to wash well with soap and water to remove the Urishiol Oil. Powdered laundry detergent mixed into a mildly abrasive scrub with just a little water is best, but any soap will do. The oil can persist on clothing, footwear, equipment, and pets, so to prevent further exposure everything that has had contact with Poison Ivy should be washed as well. Pay particular attention to your footwear as often you may brush against it and then the Urishiol Oil may be transferred to your hands later when you remove your footwear. Clothing and footwear that you believe may have been exposed to Poison Ivy should be removed and washed in a washing machine.

Poison Ivy is a natural component of Pinery and it thrives in the sandy soil. Many native herbivores use Poison Ivy leaves for food, and birds and small mammals consume the berries.

Learning to recognize and avoid Poison Ivy will ensure your visits to Pinery, and other natural areas, remain itch free and memorable.

Lyme Disease and Ticks

Lyme Disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria are spread to humans by the bite of infected Black-legged Ticks (Ixodes sp.). The risk of exposure to Lyme Disease is highest in places where Black-legged Ticks have established populations. The risk of contact with ticks begins in early Spring when the weather warms up and lasts through to the end of Autumn. Not all ticks are infected with (or carry) Lyme Disease and not all bites will result in the disease. The symptoms and health effects caused by Lyme disease can vary for each person. The most common symptom is a red, bull’s-eye rash that appears at the site of the tick bite between 3 and 30 days after the bite (average 10 days).

Precautions like wearing light coloured pants, long-sleeved clothing, and spraying insect repellent containing DEET on your footwear and clothing may reduce your chances of contact with a tick.

It is important to remove all ticks that you find on your skin or clothing promptly. Perform a full body check on yourself and others. Ticks may bite anywhere on the body but are commonly found in the groin, along the spine or at the hairline on the back of the head. Ticks are most likely to spread the bacteria after being attached to your skin and feeding for more than 24 hours.

Ticks are very small and vary in size and colour depending on their species, age and whether they have been feeding. Ticks must feed on blood from an animal or person to live. They feed by inserting their mouth into the skin of a person or animal.

In Pinery Provincial Park there are two main species of ticks: the Wood Tick (or American Dog Tick) and the Black-legged (or Deer) Tick. The Wood Tick does not transmit Lyme Disease. Black-legged Ticks are capable of transmitting Lyme disease to humans. However, not all Black-legged ticks are infected.

To remove a tick: NEVER use a match, heat or chemicals, and do not kill the tick before it is removed. Remove the tick using tweezers. Grab the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible, pulling it out with steady pressure. Do not twist the tick or it may break off in the skin. Clean and disinfect the bite area using standard first aid procedures. Always be sure to keep the tick once removed to permit confirmation of the species and potentially for submission for testing.

Ticks can be submitted to Pinery Provincial Park staff at the Visitor Centre; ticks found on humans will be submitted to the Lambton Public Health Unit for identification and possibly testing for the Lyme disease bacteria.

For more information contact Lambton Public Health at 519-383-8331 or toll free at 1-800-667-1839.

Ticks and Lyme Disease
Download Lyme_disease_fact_sheet_2014 (pdf) factsheet
Download LymeDisease_Poster_2014 (pdf) poster

Lambton Public Health Issues Blacklegged (Deer) Tick Advisory

West Nile Virus
Download Mosquito_Bite_Protection (pdf) factsheet
Download WNV_Spring_Update_2013 (pdf) factsheet

Camping Safety in Summer Severe Weather
Download Camping Safely in Ontario (pdf) Environment Canada factsheet