How NOT to Remove a Tick

Often repeated folk remedies like touching the tick with a lit cigarette might have worked to remove American dog ticks, but these days the most common ticks people encounter are blacklegged (deer) ticks and Lone Star ticks. In their adult stages, these two tick species attach with great tenacity–they insert their longer hypostomes (mouthparts) deeper into the dermis than Am. dog ticks, and their hypostomes come with more backward pointing denticles (barbs). Deer ticks also secrete a cement substance that glues them into the skin of the host. When the ticks are full of blood, they secrete enzymes that dissolve the glue allowing the tick to detach. Attached nymphal stage ticks are just too small to touch with a lit cigarette without risking a skin burn, or making the tick vomit into the bite site. Nymphs also attach with great tenacity.

Our testing staff at TickEncounter have tried more than a dozen reportedly foolproof methods for tick removal–pointy tweezers that allow you to grab even poppy-seed sized nymphs close to the skin have proven to be the most consistently reliable means for removing all species and stages of ticks safely. Even if the hypostome breaks, the germs that can make you sick are further back in the tick’s body, in the salivary glands and gut.

If you want to get even with ticks, make them crawl over your tick repellent clothing. You’ll still kill them and they probably won’t even attach to you.