How to Identify & Remove a Tick. Barf.

Tick season is here. Actually, it’s been here since April, but since a tick recently took up residence on the back of my neck, I thought “Hey! Now is the perfect time to talk ticks.”

A dog tick attached to the back of a woman's neck while outside in a garden.

Skip right to the how to remove a tick video and tips.

2019 is going down as one of the worst in recent history for tick invasions.  Not just a disgusting, gross, parasitic nuisance, ticks can spread everything from the potentially deadly Lyme disease to the almost as alarming, red meat allergy!  The faster you get the tick removed the better so time is of the essence.  Having said that, welcome to Tick Talk.  I’ll let you know how to remove a tick and how to identify them along with other information you need to stay safe in the woods or garden this summer.

I knew ticks were going to be bad this year after the emergency room visit.  My sister Pink Tool Belt was in the shower one morning when her hand ran over a little bump on her leg.  Soap and water running down her face, still bleary eyed from sleep and a lack of contact lenses, she could barely make out a dark dot.  Looking closer what she saw was a tangle of legs sticking out of her skin.  Just legs.  Only legs.  The rest of the insect was embedded deep into her flesh. It was a tick.

The rest of the story is too long to tell so just picture an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy is a blonde and Ethel is an Urgent Care doctor with a knife.

That episode in late April is what led me to immediately order this tick removal tool from Amazon. Not a tick key, but one that’s meant for removing ticks from humans. The tick keys are actually meant for removing ticks from pets but can work on humans too. 

 

Tick Ease tick removal tweezers package being held outside prior to trying it out for the first time.

Which is a good thing. Because this tick embedded itself into this human a few weeks ago.

A male dog tick with its mouth parts embedded in the back of a woman's neck prior to removing it.

 

I was clearing some weeds from the back of my garden plot that backs onto conservation area.  It’s pretty much a vampire carnival setting.  Long grassy areas populated with all manner of wildlife; ticks jumping on and off of them willy nilly.  They’re awful little blood drunken heathens.

So when a fellow gardener stopped to say hi and then told me to turn around I immediately knew it was one of two problems.  Either my hair was messy or – I had a tick.

My hair was perfect as always so I knew deep down he was going to tell me I had a tick.  

Myself, my friends Serena and Glenn all walked off in different directions trying to find something we could remove the tick with. I knew you could cut a V into a plastic straw and use that to remove a tick but I didn’t happen to have a plastic straw at the garden.  In fact we had nothing at the garden for removing ticks even though it was next on our “to-do” list for the garden.  Putting a pair of tweezers in the shed and identification signs around the garden.

Tick identification sign being held up by a woman in a pink shirt as she enters picket fence gate.

We collectively decided to caravan to my house where my new tick removal tool was waiting to be tested. Serena lugged out the massive Tick Identification sign she was about to install at the garden and we identified the tick on my neck as a dog tick. Not the kind that can give you Lyme disease. But still. 

I was pretty sure I would lead a much happier life moving forward if the tick and I broke up immediately so we removed it.

Here’s how it went.

Ticks & Disease

Lyme disease is the most common illness associated with ticks but it isn’t the only one. Ticks carry a variety of disease.

Dog tick – Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Black Legged tick (Deer tick) – Lyme Disease

Lone Star Tick – Tularemia, Alpha-Gal allergy (life long allergy to red meat)


Someone who gardens with me was bit by a Lone Star Tick over a decade ago in the U.S. and developed an allergy to red meat afterwards.  He is still allergic to red meat.

Lone Star ticks have recently been found in my province of Canada, Ontario.


My tick.

Male dog tick held by tick removal tweezers over orange cap of a tick specimen jar prior to sending it in for analysis. When you compare it to the chart below you can see quite clearly that the tick that was on me, was an adult male, American Dog Tick.

Identifying Ticks

Tick identification chart. Dog tick versus deer tick.

 

Dog Tick VS Deer Tick (blacklegged tick)

  • All ticks have 8 legs.  
  • Nymph deer ticks are the size of poppyseeds and adult deer ticks are the size of sesame seeds.
  • Nymph dog ticks are much larger and quite noticeable. At least twice the size of a deer tick.
  • Is the hard shield on its back solid or patterned?  Only a deer tick has a solid coloured shield.
  • If the tick is engorged (gross on SO many levels) a deer tick will appear reddish brown while other ticks will appear a green tinted grey.

How to Remove a Tick

  1. Using a tick removal tool like this one or a set of sharp, pointy tweezers, grasp the tick right near the skin it’s attached to.  Slowly pull straight up.
  2. Try to remove it intact and without squeezing it. Squeezing a tick will release pathogens and bacteria into you through its mouth.
  3. Didn’t get the head/mouth out?  Using tweezers again, try to get the mouth parts out. 
  4. Wash the area with soap and water and apply Polysporin or something similar.
  5. Place the tick onto a white piece of paper to identify it. Tape it to the paper with clear tape to save the tick. . 
  6. If you think there’s a need to have the tick identified, place it into a specimen jar (or tape it to paper) and mail it to the appropriate place in your town or city.
  7. If you cannot get the tick out, go to a health care provider or urgent care facility to have it removed. *

*remember my sister’s tick was embedded so deeply it had to be cut out by a doctor.

How to Prevent Tick Bites

  • Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.  Not realistic for the middle of summer?  Yeah, I know.
  • Use an insect repellant containing 30% DEET like Off Deep Woods.  Not into deadly sprays that eat through your clothing?
  • Use an insect repellant containing 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus like Repel.* (this was reviewed by Consumer Reports as being as effective as DEET.
  • Avoid or be very cautious around long grasses and weeds.  Ticks stand on the ends of grasses waiting to crawl onto any host walking past.
  • After being in grassy, wooded areas check yourself and others right away for ticks.  Once you’re home and in the shower check yourself again.

*Oil of lemon eucalyptus is NOT an essential oil.  You cannot go and buy a lemon or eucalyptus essential oil and expect it to work.  All essential oils failed testing as insect repellents. 

Tick Trivia

  1. Tick bites don’t hurt. You won’t feel it at all.
  2. A tick can go 2 YEARS without feeding. So when it sees YOU? It’s pretty determined to get on you and start feeding FAST.
  3. In many (but not all) cases of Lyme Disease from a tick bite, a rash will emanate in a circle from the bite location.
  4. A tick bite bite will not itch or hurt.
  5. Removing a tick within 24 hours will help prevent the spread of disease to you.

The funny thing is, when I was clearing the weeds I was constantly checking my legs and arms for ticks. I never even thought that one would appear on my neck. But as it turns out that’s a pretty popular place for a tick to show up.  Your neck, scalp, hairline or even between your toes. 

Have you been ticked this year? Lemme know.
 

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73 Comments

  1. TucsonPatty says:

    Oh my God, I could hardly read this post. I’ve had two encounters with ticks. One was flattened out on the scalp of a young man who was getting a haircut, and I kept feeling it as I was shampooing his hair. When I combed his hair after the shampoo I found it. My boss lit a match, blew it out and touched the hot tip of it to the body of the tick. I think that worked. I was too grossed out and have blocked it from my memory. Another time I was out at a lake, needing a toilet – none to be had, and the guys told the women to “Go over there in those bushes behind the trees.” So we did and when we came back I did not understand why they were all giggling, and when they told us that they were ticks over there I was semi-hysterical. I removed my clothing so fast in the middle of so many people you would not believe it. I’m seriously wigged out by the thought of this ever happening to me again. I just realized maybe, just maybe, that is why I don’t like the outdoors anymore.
    I can handle all sorts of bugs and spiders, NBD, but ticks?? No siree!!
    Thanks for the public service announcement, as usual.

    • Karen says:

      I’m so glad you brought up the burning a tick! Burning a tick is not in any way recommended. It makes the tick squirt out more saliva (and therefore disease) into you. Also, it doesn’t usually cause the tick to let go so you just end up with a singed tick stuck to you. Sorry about the pee experience. Whoever thought it was funny to tell you to pull your pants down in a tick infested area is an asshead. And hopefully COVERED in ticks at this very moment. 😉 ~ karen!

  2. Dawn says:

    Oh dear god. I knew I shouldn’t read this just before going to bed and after just coming in from the garden tonight. There was even a good sized black bear walking around my garden at dusk just after I had come indoors and that doesn’t give me the heebie jeebies as much as the thought of a tick on me. Now I have to go examine every inch of skin before I go to bed. Ugh.

    • Karen says:

      Good! That’s what I want you to do, lol! Part of the terror of a tick is you just can’t see them. I mean a bear? Yeah, that’s hard to miss. But a tick? They’re sneaky. ~ karen!

  3. Kmarie says:

    I have lyme that is late progressive And when I finally was diagnosed they figured it was already in my system for at least ten years ( the lyme) some years I’m fairly ok despite multiple co conditions from it ( manifests differently in people- mine likes to cause anemia and pancreases issues among other thing) I can’t cure it due to cost and Chemo like effects for only a 60 percent ish chance to fully “cure” so I’ve learned how to live with it as my Achilles heal. Which means a bunch of random restrictions and boring life rules I cant break which I won’t get into here- but some years I’ve been Bed ridden and when im out no one believe s I have a disease because it can be hidden… to a degree – and goes Into remission too – sometimes I pretend it’s not in me while others i make my peace with it. Anyway, I don’t wish it on anyone. I’m terrified of ticks still as I don’t wish for the other issues nor a resurgence of worse symptoms. I stopped reading about my condition last year because it was too depressing – I go through spurts 😉 I firmly think i am mostly getting better but sometimes life has other ideas;) This was helpful and slightly horrifying but im glad you got it out 😊 you are Artemis or Athena like with your capabilities. I admire your get it done ethic. I miss that regular energy/ability most of the time but whenever it shows up I am grateful. And maybe my lessons and being benefit from life’s lemons too;) i love my life so in the end – I guess to anyone who has just been diagnosed… it can obviously be hell but there are good times and people still able to have pretty awesome lives despite the hospital stays or random lyme flares or herxing .;) hang in there. Xo

    • Heather says:

      You’re attitude is admirable. It’s a terrible disease.

      • Kmarie says:

        Thank you. Not many people know about it much and the ones that do know a lot of misinformation in general. There’s also a great divide between the stories of the actual sufferers and some of the information on the sites online. It is awful. The first few years of diagnosis were some of the worst of my life. I also don’t have much of a memory anymore which is one of the toughest parts for me. It’s robbed a lot. But at the same time learning how to live with it and for a while there I read everything I could get my hands on “how to Cope” – and with the help of naturapaths-I have learned how to actually have a pretty good life most of the time. Plus I have a really good friend with Lyme disease and it helps because we can swap stories and text each other when and we are in a flare. I actually didn’t realize my life could still be so good. After spending years on and off in hospitals which I don’t do anymore really. So I have learned coping mechanisms. I don’t talk about it or write about it ( I only have four posts on it) much because I don’t want to be defined by it all the time but yeah it can be hard . 😊

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for your comment Kmarie. I think sometimes people don’t really appreciate that Lyme disease is a real thing. Because like you’ve been able to say with first hand experience … it’s sort of random. The symptoms are all over the place and kind of general and it doesn’t manifest the same in everyone. Basically it’s description is wishy washy which makes the Lyme disease seem wishy washy. It’s not wishy washy, it’s stealthy and tricky. I’m so sorry you have to struggle with this disease but so glad you were able to humanize it for other readers. ~ karen!

      • Kmarie says:

        Thank you and yes your description is right on target! My gal friend and I were just talking about that concept. In the span of one day I can go from crying in fetal position on suddenly unable to move my limbs ( neurological) to a few hours later smiling at the local post office with lingering effects only – That’s a quick turn over time and other flares are weeks or even months ( thankfully not my normal anymore) but it is random. My dr often says he wouldn’t believe me if he didn’t see what happens to me ( the odd things like when my mouth droops but then a few days later it’s fine ect) Wishy washy is exactly the problem on perception and symptoms – thanks for that validation;)

  4. Lisa says:

    Yup, pulled a somewhat engorged American dog tick off the golden retriever 2 weeks ago. They are BAD this year in Wisconsin. Ultimately decided not to spray paint it gold and display in a tiny cloche, but would have with a cicada shell, for sure. Also pulled one off of my cousin but it was still crawling around so that’s less impressive.

    • Lynneo says:

      Hey Lisa…Northwoods here. Very bad. Ticks on me, ticks on the dogs. Dead ticks in the bed. They are soooo disgusting. And add to it the black biting flies and now deer flies! Can’t even walk the dogs now. Sacrilege…but this year is making me wish for winter ❄

  5. MrsChrisSA says:

    We used to have little red ones at the coast and every December one of us would have a tick. My grandpa used to cover them with tobacco oil (from his pipe) until they suffocated and fell of (usuall about 24 hours). Fortunately they were just horrid little blood suckers and not the ones that make you really ill.

    We also have big fat grey ones that love our animals and often have to de-tick them – our cats especially love wandering in open veld where they are quite prolific!

  6. Sarah B says:

    I live in Western Massachusetts where ticks are (sadly) now a regular part of life. Many people I know have had Lyme- some (including my 11 year old daughter) have struggled terribly with long term effects. I also wanted to mention permethrin spray for clothing (especially socks) and permethrin-treated gaiters and socks as helpful for keeping the little #&@!-ers away. I hope that little bugger is the last one you deal with this summer! They can really spoil the fun of a good day in the garden!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah. I’m so glad people with experience with Lyme are commenting. It makes the risk more real. I feel so bad for your 11 year old. Did you catch it early in her? ~ karen!

      • Sarah B says:

        Hi Karen – unfortunately, not early enough. She did not develop any rash and her symptoms were not the classic flu-like symptoms our pediatrician would have been looking for. She had an off and on low-grade fever, headaches, fatigue and mood swings. She tested positive and had two weeks of Doxycycline. But in February, she got the flu and it seems to have reactivated the Lyme. All of her original symptoms returned and she was unable to finish out the school year. We are trying a more holistic approach this time… rebuilding her immune system while killing the Lyme, hopefully!!

  7. Heather says:

    Thanks for reminding us to be careful out there, Karen. I got Lyme and Cat Scratch Fever two years ago from a tick embedded just under my knee. (It’s weird how we don’t feel the bite. That is, until we learn that the little buggers anesthetize us before sinking in their choppers.) I didn’t develop the typical bullseye rash. I was treated but I was left with antibiotic-resistant arthritis. Thankfully, yoga (and a lot of can-do spirit) helped me to recover mobility. It’s a scary disease, and it’s made me fearful of bugs in general. Right now, we know of Lyme, but what other horrid bacterias and viruses are out in insect saliva? The best bet is to protect ourselves by applying insect repellents whenever we’re outdoors.

    • Melissa says:

      Heather, I’m with you: why would ticks be the only vector point for some of these diseases? And, what other diseases are being transmitted that we haven’t yet identified? Scary stuff…

      We live in Connecticut, so in the summer, we do a “tick check“ every night before bed. From the head to the toes, everybody in the family checks for ticksI hate them. The ticks, not my family 😆

    • Karen says:

      I’m shocked at how many people who read this blog alone have had Lyme disease. I hope you’re doing O.K. and yes, spray, spray, spray. ~ karen!

  8. GAHCK!!! Just curious but I use essential oils and one identified as Lemon Eucalyptus. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.ca/products/essential-oils/eucalyptus-lemon-essential-oil-brazil.html and any searches bring up essential oils as well so is it or isn’t it??? Thanks for any insight you can offer would be helpful.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! Lemon Eucalyptus oil isn’t the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. Confusing I know. The essential oil you’ve linked to is mainly derived of Citronella from the leaves. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is extracted and distilled in a different way that changes the chemical make up to increase the bug repellant qualities and reduce the Citronella (since citronella doesn’t actually repel bugs at all). This article sums it up well … https://www.hebebotanicals.co.nz/mosquito-repellents/ ~ karen!

  9. Marilyn Meagher says:

    They are so repugnant ! I’m glad it e did well and hopefully for pink tool belt as well. I’m very vigilant as well and have stopped gardening in bare feet and wear long pants !

  10. billy sharpstick says:

    I live in Florida. We’re having a pretty “good” tick crop this year. My observations:
    – We use the “Tick Twister”. It has a tiny notch that slides up under the tick’s mouth, then allows you to twist it loose.
    – (DEET is nasty chemical stuff. My wife is allergic to it.)We use permethrin. Spray it on clothes. Wear long socks over long pants. The Permethrin lasts through several washes.
    – Tick tubes. You can buy them, but they are ridiculously expensive. You can easily make your own. Spray permethrin onto cotton balls, let dry then stuff into toilet paper tubes(or bamboo, PVC pipe . . . ) Place around your property every 10 – 30 feet. Mice raid the cotton for nests, then the ticks on them get poisoned. Apparently ticks spend their early lives on mice, hundreds at a time.
    Grossed out yet?

    • billy sharpstick says:

      MSM sulfur in capsules is supposed to be good at repelling ticks(and fleas). I take 1 or 2 caps a day, and sprinkle over the cat’s food. I think it helps, although I have had a few ticks this year. Can’t hurt, and is cheap.

    • Karen says:

      I like that tick tube idea. ~ karen!

    • Chrissy says:

      This is genius, employing the mice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa says:

      FYI: I was going to make tick tubes, but then my friend who has cats told me that permethrin can be fatal for cats, and since there are a lot of free roaming cats in my neighborhood, I can’t.
      From icatcare.org…
      Exposure to even small quantities of concentrated permethrin can cause severe and fatal poisoning in cats. After exposure to permethrin, signs of toxicity usually develop within a few hours, but in some cases can take one to three days to become apparent. Common clinical signs of toxicity include: Muscle tremors.

  11. Tim P says:

    Here in Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay, the ticks this year are the worst I have ever seen. I’m not a woodsy person but do spend a lot of time in the yard (which is surrounded by woods) with my dog. I have had 13 ticks on me with 8 of them embedded. I have found only 5 on the dog. If I don’t catch a disease this year, I’ll be lucky. Maybe I’m the only one, but I DO itch at the bite site….terribly. That’s normally how I find that I’ve been bitten. I find myself scratching a lot. Plus, I’ll keep scratching for about a week after pulling the f*cker out. I assumed everyone itched with a tick bite. Am I abnormal with this?

    • Kim says:

      I find that I do itch after I have pulled them out, I am assuming because I didn’t pull it out fast enough and there was saliva injected at the site.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tim. You are abnormal in that! Most people can’t feel it at all. Not when it walks on them, not when it bites them and not when it’s stuck in them. ~ karen!

    • Lynn Marie says:

      Yes, I’ve had several dog ticks this year and the bite areas after removal have been markedly swollen, sore, and itchy for about a week. No circular rashes, but they’ve definitely required anti-itch measures. I gave in and sprayed my yard with a permethrin product three weeks ago and have had no problems since. As a bonus, no mosquitoes or black flies either. I resisted spraying but am glad now I did as it was impossible to do any yardwork at all.

  12. Eileen says:

    A new(ish?) bug stuff contains picaridin. Not dangerous like DEET and not as smelly/oily as the lemon eucalyptus stuff (which I have been using for as long as available since I don’t feel like neuro-toxing myself). I found some made by the same company that makes the lemon euc. stuff. It’s actually called tick spray but works for skeeters as well, which are biblically plagueish around here. It doesn’t seem to last as long as it says on the can, but that may just be because I hate spraying myself with all this crap and go too easy on it.

    • Karen says:

      HI Eileen. Make sure what you’re using is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus not Lemon Eucalyptus oil. They’re two very different things and only one is effective. If it’s in a can, chances are it’s the right thing. ~ karen!

  13. Audrey Ogilvie says:

    I have recently been diagnosed with Lyme after not setting foot on a blade of grass for two+ years. Got the bull’s eye rash a month or six weeks after feeling like I had the ‘flu. I was told there was a good chance that three weeks of Doxycycline would take care of it, but I’m not sure. The information on the Health Canada site is two years out of date so it’s no wonder doctors can’t answer many questions. My brother-in-law has it and went straight to the department of infectious diseases at an Ottawa hospital and they are following him. We live in a rural area and have have had mice in the house. Perhaps that’s how I got Lyme. The sad thing is that the bacteria, called spirochete can hide in the body. A grim thought! Am hoping for the best outcome…take no chances.

    • Sarah Neely says:

      Audrey – my Mom has Lyme and I would recommend, please please to find a Lyme specialist. If it’s not prevalent in your area, try a Boston area hospital. You need expert help and the quicker the better. Sending healing thoughts to you!!

  14. Traci says:

    Ticks are a serious problem here in PA. My son goes to a school with a wooded playground (awesome!), So we do tick checks daily.

    You can buy tick repellent clothes that have the repellent built in (LL Bean sells some). You can also buy the stuff to treat your own clothes. It uses permithrin which is safe once dried. Note: permithrin is dangerous to cats so make sure you work outside if you go the diy route and have cats. Once it is dried it is no longer dangerous to them.

  15. Susan Pav says:

    Have I been ticked? Oh yeah. Here in the Northeast I think I know more people that have had Lyme disease than have not. I am most challenged by the tiny nymph stage which is about the size of a pinhead. I have had them crawl up my arm after filling birdfeeders. Fortunately, thus far in spots where I can remove them myself. Surgical forceps and a 20x handheld illuminated magnifier are my tool kit, the latter especially helpful to see that no mouth parts were inadvertently left behind. Handy for splinters too. Being nearsighted helps.
    Lesson learned: My first Lyme diagnosis was a few decades ago-no rash. Last year tiny rashes started appearing all over my body! “Disseminated” Lyme. Lovely. Thought I was getting measles or something. But as you mentioned, no itching. So the presence or absence of rashes are variable with even for the same person. Also, other tick related diseases can be transmitted with the same bite, so tests here often include those for Babesia and Ehrlichia, the latter of which is becoming increasingly common here. Unfortunately.

    I wear long pants, socks and long sleeves year round when working outside, so I really feel your pin. It is brutal and even that is not always enough protection.

    And we have to remember to protect our pets. Lyme disease for dogs and cats is no fun for them either. Its a jungle out there!

  16. Mary Kay says:

    Yuck – icky little nasty bugs!! I have found at least 3 crawling around on me. Our dog runs out in the high grass all summer so the vet put her on a chewable flea/tick/mosquito med. So far not one on the dogs…but the little nasties move on to us – which is not cool. Wish they made a tasty chewy for us to eat that would repel ticks and mosquitos!

  17. Judy Edwards says:

    Ew, ew, ew…I found a tick on my stomach in the morning when changing out of my pajamas….meaning I slept with it ALL NIGHT since I hadn’t been outside since the evening before….was too hysterical to try to determine what kind it was, just wanted it OFF….removed it with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide and screamed off to the nearest MedExpress where they gave me a script for antibiotics and told me not to worry. Like THAT wasn’t going to happen. I’m fine so far, but….ew. Now I shower immediately after working in the garden and yard.

  18. Brandi G. says:

    I’m in south Texas. I pull/find a tick on our dogs at least a few times a week. The worst part is they bring the ticks in the house, then the ticks end up on blankets or worse…in our bed! The worst I’ve seen since living here (moved here in 2015). Thanks for the tips…I’m going to try some to reduce the number on our property.

  19. Patricia says:

    One summer at band camp…. no, seriously it was a week long fishing vacation in upper NE Wisconsin, my brother discovered he had an attached tick while he was in the shower, on his, well, you know…. I don’t remember how he removed it and I really don’t want to think about it! 🤣🤣

  20. Robin says:

    In Northwest CT – Been living with chronic lyme for 8 years- had the classic bullseye – was given 2 weeks of doxy – HAHA, now I know it should have been 2 MONTHS – definitely a life changer 🙁

  21. Karin says:

    I used to be super squeamish about ticks but after having to remove over 50 from my dog one day, I got over it. I just use my fingers, go slow and then light the little sucker up with a match once I remove it. They make a sadistically satisfying popping sound.

    • Amy in KC says:

      I am the same way. Grew up in the country in MO (now live in KS, essentially the same area though) and we pulled ticks off our pets (and ourselves) so often that it didn’t seem to be a huge deal. Gross but nothing we couldn’t handle. Burning them with a match in the sink after pulling them out was an essential step! I’m not making light of ticks or Lyme disease, though. They are scary for sure.

  22. Glenn Wiens says:

    I discovered a bump in my upper back one night when an itch woke me up and scratched. The bump came off, but now I didn’t know what I was holding. Since it was dark and I just wanted to go back to sleep, I tasted it and I didn’t taste any iron (eg hemoglobin), so I knew it wasn’t a scab or wound.

    Not wishing to pursue further identification at that specific time of sleep, I squeezed the hell out of “it” and wadded “it” in a tissue and left “it” on my nightstand. Next morning, I discovered a tick still quite alive but maimed by my superpowers and befuddled by the tissue.

    Perhaps not a recommended method of tick identification and removal, but still, I got a good night’s sleep, and the tick is still in a vial of alcohol.

    Me: 1
    Tick: 0

    • penny says:

      “Since it was dark… I tasted it…”
      WHAAAT? Who DOES that? Eww, bleagh, gack!!!
      This comment made my toes curl and my face twist into something resembling a pretzel!
      Then again, it’s the sort of no-holds-barred approach to life I’ve come to expect from TAODS readers and you seem to be thriving.
      Best wishes to you, Glenn, you’re a strange one!

  23. Erin says:

    God, I hate ticks. I found one in my daughter’s hair 3 years ago, a day after an Easter egg hunt in an open field. I’d given her a bath right after, and didn’t see anything on her skin, but kid has got a pile of hair on her head and I didn’t notice anything when I washed it. And her hair had been in a pony tail, so I didn’t think about it. Only combing it the next day and feeling this weird lump led to finding the tick (and me nearly throwing up). Husband had to pull it out, and he didn’t get the head, so off to the doctor we went. They told us not to worry, the head would come out eventually as the wound healed (GROSS), but come back if she got a fever in the next week. Sure enough, week later she had a fever. But no rash or anything, so they didn’t worry too much about it. I’m in California, so Lyme is more rare here, but I still think about that damn tick, and I get super paranoid about them when we’re hiking and stuff. UGH.

  24. Sarahew88 says:

    I really appreciate the captionings. my time to peruse your blog is 1st thing in the morning at work. I could watch with the sound off and no one be the wiser!
    Thank you!

  25. Toni McCall says:

    Ticks suck. Literally and figuratively. Most people are tracking the 24hr window for transmitting diseases like Lyme but the Alpha-Gal allergy…..doesn’t matter how long they’ve been on. How do I know? I got it. The scary part is it took over a year to figure it out because it’s not like other food allergies – the reactions are delayed 3-6 hours and it’s not always anaphylactic. I had intense abdominal pain. Ultrasound, upper endoscopy….nothing. Took a blood test from an experienced allergist to figure it out. Be safe!!

  26. Robyn says:

    Hi Karen,
    Living in the woods of northern MN, ticks are just a way of life for us. 30 years ago when we first moved here from the city, I was a basket case in the spring and summer. I would make my daughter put cotton wads in her ears at night so none would crawl in….and we kept a quart Mason jar on the counter with pure alcohol in it and as we would find ticks, we would just put them in the jar instead of flushing them down the toilet as I was not sure how much water our well held! Everyone around us has had Lyme and many of the dogs in neighborhood have died because of it. I have no idea how my hubs and I have escaped it (but then again, with the tests being kinda “iffy” we could very well have it but we just call it “old age creeping up”). My sister as a toddler got one in her ear and it attached itself to her eardrum and she had to go to a doctor who put her in a straighjacket (1960) and pulled it out. She has never had great hearing in that ear since. When you live in Tick City and want to have any kind of life, you just adapt to them. Now when I feel something crawling on me at night, I just figure I will find it somewhere, maybe, in the morning. I don’t mean to be flippant but I would be insane if I had to think about ticks/disease and mosquitoes/disease (they are our state bird!) 24/7 for months on end. I have even seen them in the dead of winter……

  27. Dianna says:

    My husband almost died from Anaplasmosis, from a Black-legged tick bite while we were visiting in Marshfield, MA.
    The first hospital just sent him home, saying he probably just had the flu, and just take some tylenol 🙁
    ….. a couple of days l rushed him to another hospital where they said he was in respiratory failure and his liver was failing!!…. the doctor said: “a few more hours later and he would have died”!
    The first hospital insisted because there was no bullseye or rash on him, that he could not have been bitten by a tick.
    The 2nd hospital started him on an aggressive treatment of Doxycycline & fluids, etc… and sent his blood out to the CDC and another lab, confirming the diagnosis of Anaplasmosis.
    Soooooo scarey!!!
    Now we have our yard monthly sprayed every month from April through September.

  28. Katie says:

    Thank you so much for writing about ticks!
    They are dangerous little buggers!
    I’ve had late stage Lyme disease for 34 years.
    It took 25 years to diagnose and to put it mildly…I’ve been through hell.
    With proper education and prevention and early treatment my life would have been quite different.
    I think it’s important to not live in fear…but to be aware of ticks.
    Thank you again.

  29. Renee Ryz says:

    My daughter did her master’s research project on proliferation of ticks & tickborne illness in Illinois, and it was published. She would have to drag for them in areas, and count nymphs, etc. When she was home during the spring & summer breaks, there would be vials of them – some alive on my counter. Euck…. Anyways, they have spread to areas in Chicago and north that they never were. Warmer winters, and the proliferation of the rodents that carry them from the infected deer have increased the spread. (oh but there is no such thing as climate change according to certain people in Washington) Nasty creatures. Luckily with all that she only had 1 bite.

  30. Sarah Neely says:

    One more note, Quidel has recently developed a new Lyme test. It’s very accurate and rapid. I wish this was available for my Mom, it took us two plus years to get her diagnosed, after being tested for early onset dementia, MS, etc. Anyway, if you see a tick and experience symptoms you can ask for that test. It’s way more accurate than old tests for Lyme and helps people get the right treatment more quickly. Thank you Karen for sharing this info! I second the permethrin-infused clothing – especially socks!

  31. Alana says:

    Guinea hens eat ticks. I think chickens might as well. If you own a piece of property with fields, let guinea hens run free….. They do have a very loud cry though. (Or so I have been told.)

  32. Michaele Anderson says:

    First off, kudos to you for not having back of the neck skin like a gnarly old farmer. Yours looks great!
    I have had quite a few deer ticks bites this spring and they itch like hell. The itch lasts a good while after removal. And, the teeny things have made bee lines up the leg and settled in the “nooks and crannies” of private lady areas. Thank god for the itch that lets me know I better start looking closely. I HATE deer ticks.

    • Karen says:

      Nope, the back of my neck is O.k., but the front of my neck is a disaster. I bought in insanely expensive vitamin C serum (like $100) from Dermalogica and am STUNNED at how well it’s worked. I’m more of a buy whatever is on sale kind of girl in terms of skin care products. I’m now officially a convert. ~ karen!

  33. Connie says:

    I contracted Rocky mountain spotted fever from a tick and I don’t even recall ever finding a tick on me 😔. I do have 2 dogs and used to hike all the time so probably at some point one had its way with me.. I didn’t find out until blood tests way later confirmed it. I was on doxy for months. Still need to go get retested soon. Lyme and RMSF are both terrible disease and can both kill you. I wish ticks would just go somewhere else! Like the moon. I hate them!!

  34. Elaine says:

    Thanks so much, Karen, for this valuable information! Members of my family are going to a cottage this weekend (along with their dog) and I’m forwarding your timely post to them right now. I truly had NO idea Lyme disease was so terrible. This post of yours has been a real eye-opener!

  35. Therese says:

    I pulled one off a week ago. What kind is it please?

    • Karen says:

      I couldn’t say Therese. :/ I’m not a tick expert and the only one i’ve seen in real life is the one that was on me! But looking at the enlarged photo it looks to me like it’s a dog tick. ~ karen!

  36. Jennifer says:

    Eek. Thanks for writing this. As an avid gardener, the thought of ticks has been freaking me out ever since I saw a card in my vet’s office showing actual sizes of ticks at different life stages–I don’t know how I’d ever see one of the young ones on me.

    I’ve now ordered a tick removal kit from CanLyme (the Canadian Lime Disease Foundation) as it has three styles of “removers” and includes id cards for different ticks (“collect the whole set…”).

    I feel itchy now.

    Thanks.

  37. Sherra Duran says:

    My wife and I camp alot in Texas and our 3 weinerdogs seem to pick up ticks quite a bit. We use the removal method that you describe but first drench the little buggers in Tequila. A shot for the tick, a shot for me. Tequila makes everything better!

  38. Janet says:

    I live in Maine and ticks are a real problem here. I have a service that sprays the edges of my yard and under the porches where tick love to hide. Since they sprayed I have had no problems when in the yard working. I have seen none on my dogs. Previously, I found 1 on my leg and one on my head. I think the spray is working.
    I always hesitate to use pesticides but, I feel it is the lesser of the two evils in the caser of ticks.

  39. Mary W says:

    We are regularly bitten – deer ticks so heavy on our 1 acre lot. Everyone must check themselves after spending anytime in our yard, even up next to the house. I also had a tick infestation one year in my living room. I accidentally bought Advantage instead of Advantix for my dog and she has long hair and slept on my couch. The grandkids always sat on the same couch and were never bitten but I noticed a fat tick crawling across the floor and knew I had problems. I think they were dog ticks since those don’t usually bite humans like the deer ticks do. Anyway, I found three more on my small dog and then became horrified as I saw baby ticks crawling off her (I had just put the correct tick prevention on and it was making them leave her. She goes to the groomer every month but this happened between visits and the ticks had found a good home. They crawled off her and up into the drape lining. They had eggs that hatched and as I sat as my desk the nightmare began – I saw what looked like pepper scattered over the wall next to me and the living room drapes – except the pepper was crawling. The ticks had already had babies and upon further investigation – the wall was alive with babies. The drapes and the back of the couch was loaded. I pulled the drapes off and washed them 3 times in HOT water and dried them in the dryer 5 times. It did not touch them. We threw them out and ran heavy bleach through the washer to kill any stuck in it. We poured poison down my walls and that is when we realized the eggs had been in the base boards as the babies were climbing up from there. They had not spread to any other room but I had nightmares night after night. We had the house gassed since the poison didn’t work completely. Then I had to wash everything I owned including walls, dishes, etc. I threw out scrapbooks and other books that were important to me but had been used by the ticks. I was never bitten so I really think they were dog ticks and after 3 weeks of torture, we had them eliminated. I’m so glad that they make tick preventative for animals that works better now. Even though I get bit frequently by ticks outside, I’ve never had them back inside and my dog and 2 cats are free of them also. I hate them so. We know people that have gotten Lyme from tick bites here in north Florida so we are very lucky. Gardening has become a chore due to their presence but they are decreasing in this new neighborhood as more homes are built. We love the property and all the deer that regularly visit but — euww!

  40. Becky says:

    Oh my gosh, so many comments! I can’t go outside without gathering a few ticks this year. Thankfully all have been the regular tick, no scary ticks. But I’m so confused by the embedded thing. I have had ticks bite me (daily, lately) and even get to the point they’re starting to get engorged. They’ve only ever had their pincers into me. I grab them with my fingers and pull. I don’t have to pull hard, and I always get the whole tick, with a bit of my skin. These tools seem weird to me.

  41. Loribeth Kowalski says:

    I contracted Lyme disease in May here in Ohio. Luckily I developed a rash exactly 10 days after removing the ticks. Yeah, two of them. Got straight in to the doctor and got 10 days of Doxy. Keeping my fingers crossed that nipped it in the bud.

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