As a camper, you encounter ticks throughout your adventures. Here are the most common tick myths that might come as a surprise to even the most outdoorsy of us!
Bizarre Tick Myths
1. Using a Lit Match is a Safe Way to Remove a Tick- Many people still believe the myth that touching an attached tick with a lit cigarette butt or match will cause it to back out and stop feeding. But this isn’t true for the ticks you’re most likely to encounter. If the tick is too small, you also risk burning your skin or causing the tick to vomit into the bite site. Gross! This tick removal video shows the best way to remove a tick is with pointy tweezers.
2. Pools Are Tick Killers- After a long hike or walk, what sounds better than relaxing in a pool? Unfortunately, an attached tick won’t unhook itself no matter how long you are swimming. Ticks don’t drown! It’s a good idea to do a tick check post-hike.
3. Full Ticks Explode- There’s a myth that ticks will continue to suck blood until they’re so overfull that they explode! While exploding ticks is an interesting idea there is NO truth to this. Ticks will stop feeding once they’re fully engorged, in other words, when they aren’t hungry anymore, the same way a human would. So don’t wait around for…you know what.
4. DEET the Tick Destroyer- While many people, including me, think that DEET can kill anything, that is not true for ticks! While DEET is an effective mosquito repellent it’s less effective at repelling ticks. If you really want to make sure there are no ticks crawling over you or your kids, permethrin treated clothing is the best choice! Permethrin is a tick repellent applied to clothes and shoes that kills ticks on contact. Commercially treated clothing is still effective after 70 washes and you can even treat your own clothes to be TickSafe in style.
5. Bodiless Ticks Can Survive- There are many things a tick can survive but having its body detached from its head is not one of them! Many people worry that if they don’t remove the head of the tick, it will continue to feed. But this is not true. If you don’t manage to remove the head of the tick there’s no need to fear. The remainder will work itself out like a splinter. Just don’t forget to disinfect your skin to keep out germs!
6. Ticks Fall Out Of Trees- Many people think the reason they find ticks on their heads is because ticks fall out of trees! Ticks only have one goal and that’s to find blood. The likelihood that a tick could climb a tree, sense you’re there and gauge the wind direction to land precisely on your head seems impossible; because it is! Ticks don’t climb trees because they don’t have to. All ticks crawl up from ground level and end up on your head only when they’ve climbed that far.
7. Vaseline Suffocates Ticks- Another common myth is that Vaseline suffocates ticks! Many people believe that Vaseline will cause ticks to let go but this takes too long if it even works! The longer a tick is attached increases the likelihood that it will transmit disease-causing germs. Ew! Instead of using Vaseline, be TickSmart and use our tick removal tips.
Dacia Daly is an intern at TickEncounter, a tick bite protection and disease prevention resource center at the University of Rhode Island that is attempting to make the public more TickSafe and TickSmart.
Photo Credit: Featured Tick Photo ©Brian Mullen- Director of New Media at TickEncounter.