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How Do I Kill a Tick?

By Drue Tibbits
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Ticks carry a variety of diseases that affect both animals and people. Handling or even touching a tick can spread disease. Depending on the circumstances, there are several ways to kill a tick without risking infection. Ticks can be killed while on the host or removed from the host and then killed. Homes and lawns can be treated with insecticides that will kill or repel ticks.

Live ticks that are not attached to a host can be killed easily. They should not be touched with bare hands but should be picked up using tweezers or a paper towel. The tick can then be dropped into a small jar containing isopropyl alcohol. After a few hours, the dead tick can be safely flushed down a toilet. Flushing a live tick down a toilet will not kill it.

Once attached to a host, ticks should be properly removed before they are killed. One of the safest ways to get rid of a feeding tick is to use a tweezers, grab near the head, and pull carefully and steadily until the tick is removed. Once the tick is out, it can be dropped into a jar containing isopropyl alcohol. The tick can then be saved for testing, if needed, in case the host develops any symptoms of a tick-borne disease.

It is not advisable to kill a tick by squashing it. Squashing a tick will kill it but will also expose the blood contained by the tick. The blood may contain diseases that can be spread by contact. Any surface that comes in contact with the blood may also be contaminated. If a tick is accidentally ruptured during removal from a host, the blood should be immediately wiped up and the area washed with soap and water.

There are many topical applications available to kill a tick on a pet. These highly effective treatments kill a tick present on an animal, causing the dead tick to fall off. Ticks that are found near treated animals are usually dead, but sometimes the ticks fall off while they are still alive. Any ticks found near treated animals should be treated as live ticks and placed in alcohol for several hours before disposal.

Many lawn and garden insecticides contain ingredients that are effective against ticks. These preparations are especially useful in areas with large tick populations. Killing ticks that are present in lawn areas will minimize the risk of live ticks being carried into the home.

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Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Jun 15, 2011

Interestingly, there are so many different suggestions out there about disposing of the tick after you remove it. Some people say to smash it which is clearly not a good method. Some just flush it down the toilet regardless of whether it is alive or not.

Apparently even burning it is not a good idea because it might cause the tick to explode and the blood might still manage to get on you or somewhere else.

I've even heard that we should wrap it in an alcohol dipped tissue and burn it, or put it in a plastic bag and freeze it in case we need to have it tested later on.

There are so many different opinions out there! But I really think that leaving it in alcohol and then flushing it is the best and safest way.

By fify — On Jun 13, 2011

I remember several years ago, bird flu was on the rise and the authorities in my country started collecting free fed chickens to prevent any infections. Somehow that changed nature's balance and we started seeing ticks everywhere. Few months later, we heard about something called the Crimean Congo disease which is transferred through ticks. Everyone was so worried about the ticks and the media did a lot of news showing us how to properly remove and get rid of ticks.

We were told to first suffocate the tick by placing a cotton ball dipped in oil on top of it. The oil prevents the tick from breathing and it also prevents the tick from releasing poisonous substances into the bloodstream as a reaction to being removed. After doing this for about a minute or so, they said that it is safe to pull the tick out with tweezers. I think the best way to do this is to pull it straight out, not twisting or turning as that might leave the head of the tick inside.

The health authorities actually recommended us not to destroy the ticks during that time period. They asked people to put the tick in a jar or other closed container and take it to the hospital with them for testing. They wanted to know if the ticks carried any disease.

I guess if there is no such risk or message from the authorities, you can kill it. We had to remove and kill a tick on my dog once and after doing the steps I mentioned, we burned the tick by holding it to fire with the tweezers. That is a very hygienic way to get rid of it as well.

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