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Fire? Flush? Alcohol? how To Properly Dispose of A Tick

Listening to people discuss their method for disposing of ticks can range from hilarious to frightening.  If you’ve heard these discussions, you may begin to ask yourself if others feel about ticks the same way they feel about werewolves or other monsters.  Many ideas for disposing of a tick seem both inhuman and punitive to the tick.  That’s probably why we never see protestors demanding an end to cruel and unusual punishment against ticks.

Ticks don’t need to be feared.  Yes, they will suck your blood.  Yes, they can give you a disease, actually several very nasty ones.  Scientists believe though that they need to be on your skin drinking your blood between 24-48 hours before your risk of infection becomes significant.

So before you get your flame thrower out or fire up the grill to make a funeral pyre for a tick you find this summer, let’s look at some creative methods of eliminating ticks others have used.  On, there are five methods listed.  Readers have added even more.  Some of these are comical. You’ll see our recommendation down below but this list was so interesting, we had to share.

First, there is fire.  You may have heard of using fire to burn a tick on your skin in order to make it release its grip.  That’s a bad practice for several reasons, including risk of burning yourself.  It’s also a perfect way for the tick to dump its infectious bacteria quickly into your blood before it releases or dies.  So, remove first and dispose of second.

Next, there is the flush.  Once the tick is removed, the suggestion is to wrap it in toilet paper and flush it down the toilet.  You may fear the tick won’t go all the way down or that it will crawl back up if it has only been partially flushed down the drain.  Although no cases have been reported, you imagine “Tick Terminator” coming back for revenge.  This is another not so good idea.  It’s not likely your tick will return but you may need the tick for reasons we will explain later.

Third is the microwave.  I don’t know about you but the idea of using something I warm my food in as an insect crematorium makes me want to eat cold food all summer long.  The website points out there may be issues with putting the tick in a plastic bag and then placing it in a microwave.  It mentions tick blood and juices inside the bag may get inside the microwave, if the bag explodes.  YUCK!”

Fourth is alcohol.  This may well work but may also will take some time.  Ticks can hold their breath a long time so you may want to get a cold drink and rent a movie if this is your method of tick termination. But again, remove the tick first and dispose of second.

Fifth is my favorite.  It involves releasing the tick harmlessly.  I knew my fellow animal lovers wouldn’t fail me.  This is the catch-and-release version of insect control.  The recommendation is to release the tick “a long way from your house”.  Releasing the tick into say, your neighbor’s yard, will likely mean you won’t see that tick again.  Ticks don’t crawl very far and have a limited home territory so you’re probably safe from that one.  Unfortunately, the newborn ticks that the released tick makes will probably find their way on your property within a year.  By then your neighbor may not be speaking to you and you’ll need to find another drop-off point to practice catch-and-release.

So what’s the actual best way to dispose of a tick?  First, before terminating it, you need to remove it from the skin properly.  Removing it properly will reduce your risk of infection and remove all the infected tick parts.  For the recommended way to remove ticks, look at the CDC web page describing the procedure.

Once removed, the next step is to seal the tick tightly in a clear plastic bag or an old prescription bottle.  Skip the microwave part.  Observe yourself for symptoms for at least the next 30 days.  It can take many tick disease symptoms, including Lyme Disease, that many days to appear.  Keeping any tick you remove from your skin in a sealed plastic bag will allow it to be tested.  Testing the tick, is the best way for your doctor to know what tick disease you may have.  Even partial ticks missing their head, legs, etc. can be tested for diseases.

Save your matches, microwave and grill for lighting fires and cooking this summer.  Ticks don’t need to be tortured for being ticks.  More importantly, removing and preserving your tick properly can go a long way to you receiving a correct diagnosis and being treated quickly.

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