Ticks are dangerous due to the blood borne illnesses and diseases that they sometimes carry, so if you don’t know how to kill a tick, your chance of getting sick is much higher.
That’s why, if you’re bitten by a tick, or find a loose one, you need to know exactly how to kill it properly.
What Happens If A Tick Bites Me?
Speaking of diseases and blood borne illnesses transmitted to humans and animals via ticks, there’s quite a few to be concerned about. In animals, such illnesses as bovine babesiosis (Texas fever) is commonly spread by ticks. An illnesses capable of killing a majority of yearling cows that are infected.
As far as diseases spread to humans by ticks, there are two which are wide-spread; Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain fever. However, most bites from ticks are pretty much harmless, including being painless. If you’ve been bitten and fed on by a tick, but weren’t able to catch a glimpse of it, there are a few clear indicators that it was indeed a tick that bit you.
Symptoms of a tick bite include:
- Red rash-like spots
- Rash spreading over a large part of your body
- Stiffness of neck
- Joint pain and achy muscles
How Do I Identify A Tick?
Whether you’ve been bitten by a tick, spotted what you believe to be a tick in one form of life cycle or another, or suspect your pet may be carrying ticks, they are easy to identify.
The first thing to consider is that they are pretty small, measuring anywhere from a single millimeter to a centimeter. They are egg-shaped with eight legs, and more or less, crawl around looking like little spiders. Color-wise, most ticks are one shade or another of white or grey. However, many species appear slightly darker in color, including various hues of red and brown.
All things considered, larval ticks differ in appearance from adult varieties. For example, they measure anywhere from 1/32 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch and have only six fully developed legs. That said, the chances of a human being bitten by a tick in its larval stage is extremely slim.
How Do I Kill A Tick?
Knowing how to kill a tick properly is serious business. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps to follow that will ensure a job well done (or, a tick well killed).
1. Practice Caution
The first step to killing a tick is to practice caution. Killing ticks is not as simple as grabbing it and smushing it between your fingers.
In reality, that is the worst thing you can do. What you should do is start off by staying patient, wearing gloves, and working calmly.
2. Carefully Remove The Tick
Before you can kill a tick, you must first carefully remove it. A tool is necessary to get the job done right. Tweezers, two sharp rocks, or even dental floss will do the trick. Once you’ve selected your tool, very carefully apply pressure near the base of the head and slowly pull up and outward.
Failure to remove the tick properly may cause it to regurgitate inside of you. In some cases, its head may even explode or break off inside of your skin. In any of these cases, you will at least cause an infection in the bitten area in addition to increasing your chance of catching a disease or blood borne illness.
Never try to remove a tick by using alcohol, nail polish, matches, cigarettes, gasoline or petroleum jelly. None of these methods actually work, quite the opposite; they increase your chance of catching a disease or setting up an infected wound.
3. Kill the tick
Once you’ve successfully removed the tick it’s time to get down to the killing. You’ll be glad to know that there are several easy ways to do so, and quickly at that:
- Hold the tick with tweezers (or on the tip of a needle) and burn it to death with a lighter
- Suffocate the tick by placing it on a piece of paper or cardboard and cover it completely with superglue or tape
- Drown the tick by flushing it down the toilet (make sure to flush a couple of times extra for good measure)
- Crush or smash the tick in between two flat surfaces (just be aware of the blood splatter as it could transmit sickness)
4. Keep or dispose the tick
Keeping or disposing of the tick after removing it is just as important as properly killing the tick. You’re probably wondering why you would possibly want to keep a tick after killing it. The answer is simple; if you (or whoever the tick bit) become sick, you can turn the actual specimen over to medical professional for testing. That way you’ll know what illnesses or diseases it was carrying.
But, if you’re like most people, you may feel the urge to dispose of it. And that’s alright too, just make sure it’s in the toilet or somewhere like a trash can with a lid (outside of your home). Avoid disposing of ticks in sink drains or waste baskets inside of your home just in case they’re not really dead. Because, in that case, they could escape only to latch onto the next warm-blooded host that passes nearby.
When it comes to killing ticks, there is no time to waste once someone’s been bitten. Remember to handle your removal tool with care, work slowly, and stay calm.
Also, make sure to follow one of the above methods mentioned for killing ticks and avoid the myths such as vaseline or matches which don’t work or even make matters worse. And last but not least, don’t forget to keep the tick or properly dispose of it!