Myth-busting:Top Ten Tall Tales (and the Truth!) about Ticks Part 2


Hello again, outdoor-loving friends! Last week, we educated ourselves on the truth about some tall tales regarding an arachnid that lives in our midst - the tick! Whether you encounter a deer tick, dog tick, Asian Long-horned tick, the Lone Star tick, or the Gulf Coast tick, you are sure to recollect some wisdom you’ve heard about how to handle such an unwanted encounter. Since the truth can be stranger than fiction, we’re going to break down some of these tid-bits of supposed wisdom. What’s true? What’s merely a myth? Let’s find out by looking at these next five common misconceptions about ticks

Myth #6: You are safe from ticks when you are not in the woods

False! Ticks can not only survive on shrubbery and grass in non-wooded areas, but can even withstand (and thrive) in snow and sand. Don’t let the cold weather or your coastal vacation make you forget to be aware of the possibility of ticks. Many ticks populate on plants that are low to the ground in order to give themselves the best possibility of finding a host. They don’t necessarily need to be in the woods in order to find an animal or human to serve as a host!

Myth #7: You can feel a tick bite

One might, understandably, believe that they would be aware if they were bitten by something. Usually, they would be correct! A tick, however, is designed to go unnoticed, as this is their best chance for survival. Prior to sinking its teeth (and chelicerae and hypostome) into your flesh, a tick will produce a liquid that actually numbs the site of the bite. A tick also doesn’t chomp and place its mouth pieces into a host all at once. It takes around 30 strokes of the chelicerae (rods with hooked teeth) to slowly tear into a spot in the host’s skin. The numbing element, slow opening of the skin, and the extremely small size of the tick all contribute to a bite going unnoticed.

Myth #8: A tick’s head may stay under your skin after body removal

When a tick has been attached to a host for many hours, the skin may swell as a result of the bite and it can appear that a tick has its head buried into the skin. Fortunately, in this case, looks can be deceiving. Sometimes, if a tick is removed, a host may still hold a piece of tick inside of its skin. This may cause people to believe that the head is still in the body. However, the mouth and its parts are the only pieces of the tick that are inserted into the skin of a host when attaching. If a part of a tick is left in the skin, it can only be the mouth. Once the rest of the tick is disconnected from the mouth, the mouthparts can no longer function. The pieces will fall out on their own soon or when the area is washed.

Myth #9: When a tick bites, you contract a disease right away

Thank goodness this myth is not true! Contrary to popular belief, not every tick carries bacteria that will transit a disease to its host. Additionally, it takes time for disease bacterium to spread to the host. That being said, the time it takes to transmit a disease varies. The Powassan virus has been known to be transmitted within a matter of minutes, while Lyme has been documented as taking 24 - 36 hours to transmit. Either way the disease (if a tick is carrying bacteria) does not spread to its host instantly. However, it is still best to rid oneself (or a beloved pet) of a tick as soon as possible!