Most people will encounter a tick at one point or another in their life.
They can be a particularly hard pest to deal with, and sometimes they spread diseases to their host. Humans along with livestock and pets are susceptible to becoming hosts at any given time. You may have come here wondering how to get rid of ticks, but before that can happen you need to identify what kind of tick you are dealing with and how they may have attached to the host.
There are nearly 900 different species of ticks across the world. In the United States there are only 90 species, which is just a sliver of the total amount. Of the 90, 80 of them are hard-bodied and the other 10 are considered soft-bodied. While there are several different species of ticks, only a handful of them are common enough to be seen on a regular basis.
Most common types of ticks
- Blacklegged Tick- Before being called the blacklegged tick, it was referred to as a deer tick. While it primarily feeds on mice and white-tailed deers, other mammals such as humans do become hosts. The bodies of these ticks are reddish brown, with the head and legs being black. They are the primary carrier of Lyme Disease as well.
- Brown Dog Tick- This tick has no markings at all and is brown in color. Dogs are the primary host for this pest.
- Bat Tick- The primary host for this tick is the bat. They are typically spotted in or around homes where bats live in the attics or crawl spaces. Birds and poultry can also be hosts for these pests, but it is unlikely that they will bite a human. Since human blood doesn’t help them reproduce, they die off quickly once they have been removed from their host.
Places where ticks can be picked up
Ticks like to live in places where there are plenty of possible hosts. Forests and other moisture-rich areas are where hosts commonly pick up these pests. Fields with tall grass can also be home to the ticks. Campgrounds are often filled with ticks as well as the dog paths at rest areas throughout the United States.
Ticks are infamous pests that affect dogs, and here’s a look at the most common hiding places on your pet:
How the tick attaches to the host
Generally ticks have to climb grass blades to attach to their host. Adult ticks choose larger mammals which include deer, humans, and pets. Nymphs, which are ticks in the mid-stage of the life cycle often choose their hosts from being on the ground, but have been known to climb grass blades. Larvae only grab hosts from ground-level and can mostly be found in mice and rabbits. The hard ticks will make a feeding wound on the host. They then attach their mouth-parts to the host and begin sucking blood in order to survive.
Once you have identified which tick is your problem, you can begin the process of removal. Take into consideration who or what the tick has attached to and try and devise the easiest and less painful way of doing things. Below you will find information on how to get rid of ticks and ways you can prevent them from attaching again.
Tick removal for humans
- You will need a sharp object that you can use to remove the tick. Tweezers are ideal, but anything similar can be used as well.
- Get as close to the skin as possible. Pull toward you in a slow, but steady motion. If you move too fast or try and twist the tick, you risk leaving the mouth-parts imbedded in the host. The mouth-parts which are left in the host can try to be removed, but often they are just left inside the host and the skin is left to heal over them. This is why it is important to make sure the removal process is done carefully and slowly.
- Once the tick has been successfully removed, you will need to wash the bite wound. Rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub is preferred, but soap and water will do if neither is available.
How to get rid of ticks on dogs and other pets
- Find a pair of tweezers or purchase a tick removal instrument at a pet supply store.
- Grab as close to the skin of the animal as you can. You need to be sure you have a hold of the mouth-parts to avoid leaving them attached.
- Once the tick is removed, you need to wash the wound. You should be using a disinfectant like rubbing alcohol or the iodine scrub mentioned above. Some owners prefer to add triple antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) to the wound as well.
How to kill ticks
After the tick has been removed from the host, you will need to make sure you dispose of it. Squashing it with your hands is not a safe option. If you do this, you will be exposing yourself to possible diseases the tick has carried with them along with the blood that was stored in its body. These are some ways you can kill the ticks and not worry about any further exposure to germs from them.
- Flushing the tick down the toilet. While this option doesn’t kill the tick, it does send it out of your home without any possibility of it finding another host. Make sure you wrap the tick in toilet paper and then flush it to make sure it doesn’t fall on the floor or get lost.
- Drop the tick in alcohol. Rubbing alcohol will do the trick nicely. Fill up a small cup or glass and drop the extracted tick into it. This will ensure it is dead. You can add it to a sealed plastic bag and put it in the garbage can.
- You can also place the tick in a plastic bag and microwave it for a few seconds. This will cause the tick to explode in the bag, allowing you to know it will no longer be a problem.
Now that you have learned how to get rid of ticks, you will have to think about how to prevent them. If you know you will be in an infested area, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants are an absolute must. The less skin you have exposed the less likely a tick will be able to attach to you. Ticks that are in your yard could be brought there from animals. If you live near a forest or wooded area, deer repellent on your property would be an option as well. Make sure you are checking your pets and livestock routinely.
Once a tick has been discovered, many people begin to feel uneasy about the possibility of developing Lyme Disease. The good news is that the tick has to be feeding for at least 24 hours before there is a risk of developing the disease. If it is spotted and promptly removed, the host can rest easy.Lyme disease is most often associated with the blacklegged tick, but has been spotted in other ticks as well.
Once you have found and removed the ticks, you will be better prepared for any repeat occurrences. While learning how to get rid of ticks, you have also learned how to protect yourself and your animals from becoming a host. Remember to dispose of the ticks properly in order to avoid them coming into contact with another host.