I took my dogs for a long walk in the woods today. Both came back covered with ticks. I combed them all (I hope) out, and collected them in a vessel. The ticks seemed to die within minutes of being extracted. Is this because they lost their “host”? If they’re that dependent a parasite, how the heck did they survive alone out there in the woods, before they attached themselves to my dogs?

Are you sure the ticks are dead? They may be playing possum until a new host comes along.

IIRC, they find a host in the wild by hanging onto branches, grass, etc, and waiting for some critter to brush them off the branch and onto its body. While they are waiting they are passive, which makes sense since they aren’t getting any nourishment. My guess is that your ticks are in their waiting mode.

Similar critters, insect and arachnid parasites, are notoriously difficult to kill. These animals are adapted to survive the activities of unwilling hosts. In general, we humans unleash a high powered chemical arsenal (e.g. Raid!) when we encounter them. I’d suggest you do the same to your tick collection instead of assuming they are now harmless.

I thought of a clever new sig line last night, but I forgot it when I woke up this morning.

Best way of removing a very stubborn tick is to pour oil (such as motor oil) over it, wait, and then use tweezers to dislodge that sucker.

Just in case.

“What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch?” --W.C. Fields

Or you could take one apart to see what makes it tick.

Ray (Sometimes one can’t resist.)

      • Free Willies:
      • Around these parts the ticks will climb up to the top of a blade of grass, and hold on to the grass with their back legs while raising their two front legs in a “V”, ready to catch onto anything that passes by. Occasionally you can see them if you’re careful. Sometimes, in one small area you’ll see dozens of them waiting like this. - MC

Brushing your dogs probably did not remove all the ticks…once they have latched on some of the guys are hard to get off…you literally have to pull them off…yea I know they tell you not to do that because part of the bugger could stay latched on…but living in tick country…I’ve never had that happen…and either burn the ones you have collected or Raid them…they aren’t dead…they can live several days without a host easily…

“Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

A WAG, Rmat, but if you combed them out, you probably pulled their little heads off. That’s why they died.

You should never pull off a tick; the head can detatch and remain buried in the flesh, possibly causing an infection. Cover them with some type of oil or grease. They will be unable to breath and will release their blood-sucking grip.

Thank you all for the helpful information. None of the ticks had actually embedded themselves into the skin. I’m familiar with that when it happens; combing is definitely not sufficient, and the little buggers get bloated. All but one of the ones I found yesterday were just sort of crawling around; the one exception had just begun to chomp but came off with little force. I’ll remember the oil trick. Years ago I repeatedly tried a different popularly recommended trick: applying the head of a just-extinguished match; it never worked.

Have your vet show you the proper way to extract a tick. If your dogs are covered in ticks you cannot cover your dogs in oil. Also buy some flea and tick control medication from your vet (don’t trust over the counter crap) and have your dogs vaccinated for Lymes disease. Be aware that this disease is zoonotic and you can catch it too. Ticks carry a variety of other nasty diseases. I don’t advise allowing your dogs to continue to play in tick infested areas.

Resident Veterinary Technician

Studi? I hate to say this, but…you are wrong. I have it on the word of the Orange County, NY Health Officer. IF one tries to somehow drown,or suffocate a tick, only one thing will happen. Before it dies, it will panic. IN DOING SO, it regurgitates MUCH more saliva into the Host Creature’s skin than it might have otherwise.
All you do is risk getting Lyme before you extract it. Just get in there, quickly, with tweezers. Heat, oil, etc…all encourage it to panic, and release a lot more saliva.
Sorry. But, for once, I have it on authority of someone with NO SENSE OF HUMOR about ticks.


" If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel."

All I have to say on this matter is…


“If God had meant for man to eat waffles,
he would have given him lips like snowshoes”
-Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

Just quoting my favourite general science reference book. It says the pouring of an oil over a tick will often get the tick to disengage by itself within 30 minutes. And if that doesn’t work, says the book, then you should use tweezers.

The most recent dogma (no pun intended) is to grasp the little critter with tweezers, as near to the point of attachment as possible, and pull gently but firmly, and slowly, to extract the tick. Ticks are like most of us – interested in self-preservation – and won’t willingly allow their heads to be pulled off, but sometimes it takes a minute or two to get them to let go gracefully, and they may leave small mouthparts behind. Opinions on mouthpart removal are divided, but the upshot seems to be take them out if you can see them, but otherwise leave them alone. Immersing ticks in oil, alcohol, Vaseline, etc. is no longer recommended. Neither is the application of heat, liniment, or allied treatments. And if you live in the Northeast especially, watch for bullseye rash around the bite, which is an early indicator of Lyme disease. Check out http://www.lyme.org/index2.html for illustrated, step-by-step instructions and treatments.

If a way to do a job wrong exists, someone someday will do it that way.

  • Capt. Edward Aloysius Murphy Jr. (yes, THAT Murphy)
    Developmental Engineer, Edwards AFB, 1941

Are we talking about wood ticks or deer ticks here? My understanding is that Lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks but not by wood ticks. Wood ticks are the blackish ones that are about a quarter-inch in diameter, while deer ticks are much smaller. I’m not saying wood tick bites are a good thing, and you certainly don’t want the critters hanging onto you or your pets. But unless there’s some new evidence I’m not aware of (and we hear a lot about Lyme disease here in Wisconsin), I don’t think wood ticks can give you Lyme disease.

The definitive answer (Wood vs Deer ticks) is: it depends.

The basic concept here is that the ticks don’t “have” Lyme disease (or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, or whatever), but they are the vector that carries the disease from an infected host to an uninfected one. That said, according to the CDC ( www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/lyme/lyme.htm ), Lyme is KNOWN to be spread by both Deer (aka Bear) ticks and Black-Legged ticks. The basic problem here is identification of the tick involved – they’re not labelled, and you can’t ask them for their driver’s license. Size is not necessarily a determinant, since a tick that is feeding (or has recently fed) enlarges to accommodate the blood it removes from the host. Also, CDC says that most transmission occurs during the nymph stage, which is even smaller than the adult tick, making discrimination between tick families even more of a challenge.

As a basic “rule of thumb”, I would assume that any tick bite could produce infection, whether Lyme or otherwise. Disinfect promptly, and keep an eye on the site for the next couple of weeks. If possible, save the tick that bit you, as this could provide further information for analysis. Seek medical treatment at the first sign of symptoms. There are lots of Lyme Disease sites on the 'Net that will give you loads and loads of further information.

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 15 tons.
-Popular Mechanics, 1949


Be assured… I got your reference… L)

Yer pal,