7 Bizarre Tick Myths

Tick Myths DebunkedToday, we have a Guest Post written by Dacia Daly.  Welcome to the blog, Dacia!

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.

Myths About Ticks

Burning ticks can be dangerous!

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.

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  1. Thank you for the myth busting prose. Well written and easily understood – with some great links to additional information. Keep the Camp Mom knowledge coming. Thank you Dacia!

    • Dacia Daly says:

      Thanks so much for your compliments! I’m very happy that I was able to share this information with you and all of A Little Campy’s readers.

  2. Interesting facts and good stuff to know! I took my boys hiking this past weekend and a bunch of ticks climbed on for the ride home. UGH! I’m realizing that a good head-to-toe tick check after we’ve been in the woods is a necessity.

    • Courtney Murchison says:

      Please educate yourself on Lyme Disease. My 15 year old cousin now has Chronic Lyme Disease from a tick bite. She can no longer attend school due to her symptoms. She takes 40 meds a day and 3 shots a day. At one point, she was sleeping 20 hours a dayshe is now on month 11 of being sick.. She had no signs or symptoms for months. Had she been diagnosed correctly, tested correctly, had a lyme literate doctor early on, she wouldn’t have reached “chronic” level. Please google and watch the movie “Under Our Skin.” My cousin and many people I know are living the nightmare of Chronic Lyme.

      • Dacia Daly says:

        Hi Ellie! I’m not sure how old your boys are but if they’re young I have tick check tip that may make tick checks easier for you. Get kids to enjoy tick checks and remember where to look by having them sing the “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” song while checking those places for ticks. Hope this helps!

  3. Courtney Murchison says:

    This is a great article. It would be even better if you would stress the strong probability of contracting Lyme Disease and related tick-borne illnesses from just one tick bite. I understand that was not the purpose of this article, but if one is going to educate the public on ticks, it should go hand-in-hand with Lyme Disease Awareness.

  4. Linda Sauer says:

    A piece of a tick was embedded in my leg after a bite received while tent camping. I got tick paralysis after about 10 days in a hospital. I was admitted for hypercalcemia and almost died from kidney & liver failure. There were no new ticks in my hospital room so it had to have been from the tick still in my leg. Toxins maybe? Good article! I always thought ticks were big enough to see and slap away. Been tent camping in 28 states so far.

  5. If you get into a batch of seed ticks, the little tiny newly hatched ticks, you can easily remove them before they bite with duct tape. I keep a little bit rolled around a pencil in my pack in case I get into them. Another trick is to wear as little clothing as possible. Tick like to bite in hidden places like around a waste band. If my legs are uncovered I can spot them as they crawl up to my hidden regions.

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