Tips and Advice

When the Course Fights Back: Poisonous Plants, Bugs, and More

Disc golf is played outdoors.  Sometimes that means we have to deal with wildlife, insects, and poisonous leaves – the less desirable side of nature.  We’re here to help mitigate and avoid those risks.

Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac, and Nettles


The first step is identification.  You really should be able to identify poisonous vegetation, but many people cannot.  We’re not botanists, so here’s a link to help you understand these plants.

Poison Ivy on the Disc Golf Course
Which of these plants is poison ivy?


A cold water rinse within a few minutes of touching the plant is best.  Rinse off any disc, shoes, or other equipment that may have contacted the oils of the plant.  You need to rinse with enough water to dilute the oil.  Still playing?  Set aside that equipment and don’t let it come into contact with anything else.  I have also heard that dish soap works to pull the oils away from the skin – it makes sense but I haven’t tried it yet.

When you get home use a poison ivy wash like Tecnu Poison Ivy Scrub, just in case.

For those burning nettles rashes, we like to carry wet wipes or sterile wipes like these.  Clean the infected area thoroughly and the burning sensation should subside a little.  If you don’t carry those, mix up some mud and rub it on your skin.  Read up on nettles.

Nate Sexton Firebird in some nettles
This Firebird is really close to some stinging nettles


Just the mention of this annoying little sucker makes me itch.  Bug spray sometimes works to keep them away, especially with a high amount of deet.  If you do get nibbled on, I find that those same wet wipes help to avoid the itching later.

Here’s some more mosquito science.

Bees and Wasps

It’s tough to avoid these stinging insects.  If you do get stung, wash the area with soap and warm water as soon as you can.  I haven’t tried them myself, but some people have had success with bee and wasp sting relief wipes.

Here’s a tip to avoid being stung where it hurts your game – use your off hand.

And here’s some more info on stings.


This tiny, spider-like bugs are difficult to see and like to hide in bushes and wooded areas – that sounds a lot like a disc golf course.  I recommend checking for these burrowing pests after your round.  You should also carry a pair of tweezers in your car for removal.

More info on ticks and all the diseases they carry.

Thorns, Thistles, and Burs

Sharp vegetation hurts.  Keep an eye out for these things when you are searching for a disc.  This is yet another reason to carry those tweezers.

Spiders, Snakes, and Other Creepy Things

In our area it’d be pretty rare to find a poisonous spider or snake.  You should make yourself aware of what kinds of ground lurkers are in your area (or the area where you travel).  Check the local DNR websites as they usually have information on this.

Spider in web

Recommended Equipment

Here’s a list of random stuff we carry in our bags or car to help clean up after the course fights back.

  • Wet Wipes
    • Clean off the oils, disinfect stings, etc
  • Tweezers
    • Pulling stingers, thorns, or ticks
  • Extra Towels
    • Drying off
  • Water
    • Rinsing
  • Calamine lotion
    • To reduce itching
  • Plastic grocery sacks
    • For shoes, clothes, towels, and discs that have touched contaminated items
  • Band-aids or medical tape
    • Sometimes you don’t see the thorns until it’s too late

Region Specific

I know what to look for in my local area, but if I travel I have no idea what to watch out for (alligators for instance).  Do us all a favor and leave a comment below to let us know what you’ve encountered in your area.


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      • Kathy Kuskie

        We have a lot of blackberry briars in our area (the western side of the Pacific Northwest). SUPER tasty in late August or early September, but can be brutal when discs land in the middle of a big patch. Jeans and sturdy shoes help. I’ve also gotten really good at using my disc to move briars to the side as I move through them.

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