A Ticklish Question

This is a gross but I’m a crude country woman and I’m not afraid of addressing a tick-lish topic.

Every person living in rural areas has their own process of dealing with ticks and I’ve noticed the methods often differ wildly from those recommended by internet sites. For starters, the sites always urge avoiding “walking in grassy, brushy, or heavily wooded areas.”

Of course, that eliminates most of the outdoors and makes living here pointless so I skip that step.

Next, we are urged to wear light colored clothing so we can spy the little critters crawling on us. Seen Humboldt mud lately? We’d stain light clothing faster than a baby spits out spinach and we still couldn’t see anything against the mud splatters..sooo dark jeans it is for most of us. The tight weave and tighter fit makes tick bites less frequent.

Wear bug repellant? Hmm, maybe I’m suspicious but that stuff looks and smells deadly. I’m betting that it causes cancer. And I can’t wear it every time I go outside anyhow.

Actually, I’ve been bitten only a few times in my life so I tend to skip advice on avoiding the creatures and concentrate on removing them because, while I’ve only been chomped a few times, even with monthly doses of repellent, my dog frequently displays the chic doggy look of tick body studs—living gray jewelry. (I’m surprised some Gothic girls haven’t gone for the look.)

Now, the true question. How do you remove ticks? The sites say don’t burn their butts or try and smother the tick because anything that “upsets or harms the tick without removing it can theoretically cause the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents back into the host, increasing the likelihood of disease transmission.”

Pause… I’m all for not having a tick regurgitate its stomach into me or anybody I love…really totally and completely not into it– so I just try to remove them fast. I’m of the school that grasps tightly with fingers as close to the skin as possible and twirls counter clockwise but I’ve noticed internet sites tend to recommend using tweezers and pulling straight out.

When I do that I tend to leave the head behind. Oddly, I find it repellent to walk around sporting tick head decorations –thus not so much with the pulling straight out and more with the twirling.

How do you get rid of the varmits?

One thing I don’t have to ask country people is how you get rid of the ticks you’ve detached. If you’re like everyone else with a wood stove, you fry the little buggers and only the sound of tiny screams would make the experience more satisfying.

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35 comments

  • I have never had a tick and I was playing in the woods all my life. I really can’t explain it actually. The amount of poison oak I have had though is enough to make someone want to move overseas, and moreover, after seeing that picture of the nasty tick I am happy to be right here in Tokyo.

  • Sorry, I can’t answer your question. I had a tick once when I was very young. I think we were living in Oregon. Mom somehow got it out but I don’t remember much about it. Ugly little buggers, aren’t they?

    I’ve had poison oak, too, Renn…and I hate it too!

  • Sorry, I can’t answer your question. I had a tick once when I was very young. I think we were living in Oregon. Mom somehow got it out but I don’t remember much about it. Ugly little buggers, aren’t they?

    I’ve had poison oak, too, Renn…and I hate it too!

  • tick tock, tick tock… (as opposed to chirping crickets) The only sound that comes to mind when thinking about what advice to give. I’ve never had the privilege of either ticks nor poison oak. Guess I didn’t live there long enough. I don’t believe there’s any vermin alive here in Chicago after that nasty cold November we had.

  • tick tock, tick tock… (as opposed to chirping crickets) The only sound that comes to mind when thinking about what advice to give. I’ve never had the privilege of either ticks nor poison oak. Guess I didn’t live there long enough. I don’t believe there’s any vermin alive here in Chicago after that nasty cold November we had.

  • I loved this commentary on ticks. I don’t burn them out since I was a little kid fire close to my body was spooky. Here we light a match blow it out and put it on his (or her – I’m not tick sexist after all) …on the tush of the insect. For me this always works. Which is really good for my daughter because ticks have found that she is the love of their life. Like you the only thing bug repellent does for me is repel me from ever kissing my spouse when he bathes in it…. ick… never touch the stuff myself.

  • I loved this commentary on ticks. I don’t burn them out since I was a little kid fire close to my body was spooky. Here we light a match blow it out and put it on his (or her – I’m not tick sexist after all) …on the tush of the insect. For me this always works. Which is really good for my daughter because ticks have found that she is the love of their life. Like you the only thing bug repellent does for me is repel me from ever kissing my spouse when he bathes in it…. ick… never touch the stuff myself.

  • The sites say that doing that won’t cause the tick to release but possibly to “regurgitate” its stomach contents back into the host. Does the tick immediately let go?

  • The sites say that doing that won’t cause the tick to release but possibly to “regurgitate” its stomach contents back into the host. Does the tick immediately let go?

  • Kym,
    I’m out in the woods every day. Ticks, chiggers, scorpions, Fire ants, & Black Widows are a daily occurrence. I have had Lyme’s Disease only once (a month of anti-biotics and your fine if you catch it early) so I’m doing pretty good so far. I tend to favor the Fire Ants because they keep the ground hornet population down & it’s easy to avoid the ants. When I remove a tick I just pinch its head as close to the skin as possible & pull slowly straight out. It seems to work just fine. If the head get stuck in the bite I whip out the razor and shave the little bugger off. The whole regurgitate thing I think refers to the ticks gorged with blood. I’ve never had one on me long enough to get that big. I check myself as soon as I get home. All of this is just another reason why I like Winter so much.

    Anyway I like your site. The Picts with the poetry is very appealing (well except for maybe that picture of the tick 🙂 ). Thank you.

  • Kym,
    I’m out in the woods every day. Ticks, chiggers, scorpions, Fire ants, & Black Widows are a daily occurrence. I have had Lyme’s Disease only once (a month of anti-biotics and your fine if you catch it early) so I’m doing pretty good so far. I tend to favor the Fire Ants because they keep the ground hornet population down & it’s easy to avoid the ants. When I remove a tick I just pinch its head as close to the skin as possible & pull slowly straight out. It seems to work just fine. If the head get stuck in the bite I whip out the razor and shave the little bugger off. The whole regurgitate thing I think refers to the ticks gorged with blood. I’ve never had one on me long enough to get that big. I check myself as soon as I get home. All of this is just another reason why I like Winter so much.

    Anyway I like your site. The Picts with the poetry is very appealing (well except for maybe that picture of the tick 🙂 ). Thank you.

  • site or not… they’ve always left, then usually we picked them off and threw them in the fire. It’s worked 100% for us rural folks. Maybe if the matchstick got cold it might not work… but for our troop it’s worked flawlessly.

  • site or not… they’ve always left, then usually we picked them off and threw them in the fire. It’s worked 100% for us rural folks. Maybe if the matchstick got cold it might not work… but for our troop it’s worked flawlessly.

  • My dog is going to be the guinea pig for this. I’ll try all three methods and see what works. Hmm, I hope I don’t catch her hair on fire.

  • My dog is going to be the guinea pig for this. I’ll try all three methods and see what works. Hmm, I hope I don’t catch her hair on fire.

  • We have found a new product made in Eureka called PAV. It is pine pitch in a petroleum medium and is great for skin stuff including tick bites, small wounds and fungus. Recently, I had a deeply buried tick on my arm. The tweezers only got the back half. I trie some PAV and the remnant dried right up and was easily removed the next day. The Indians used pitch on wounds and it does seem to do the trick. I get lots of tick bites and a regular Lyme test. If it goes untreated, Lyme Disease is very bad news.

  • We have found a new product made in Eureka called PAV. It is pine pitch in a petroleum medium and is great for skin stuff including tick bites, small wounds and fungus. Recently, I had a deeply buried tick on my arm. The tweezers only got the back half. I trie some PAV and the remnant dried right up and was easily removed the next day. The Indians used pitch on wounds and it does seem to do the trick. I get lots of tick bites and a regular Lyme test. If it goes untreated, Lyme Disease is very bad news.

  • My middle son got lyme twice–very bad news! I’ve tried burning the tick now (didn’t make it drop off, I still had to pull it out). I tried pulling straight out and that worked just as well but no better than twisting clockwise or counterclockwise. I guess I wil try PAV for any oops and just keep pulling the ticks out. Where do you get it?

  • My middle son got lyme twice–very bad news! I’ve tried burning the tick now (didn’t make it drop off, I still had to pull it out). I tried pulling straight out and that worked just as well but no better than twisting clockwise or counterclockwise. I guess I wil try PAV for any oops and just keep pulling the ticks out. Where do you get it?

  • PAV is a bit hard to find. We were given a sample in Old Town and it is supposed to be in the CoOps but we wound up calling them and ordering some. They are very nice and sent more samples. I’ll get you the number when my wife is up. We are impressed with the results.

  • PAV is a bit hard to find. We were given a sample in Old Town and it is supposed to be in the CoOps but we wound up calling them and ordering some. They are very nice and sent more samples. I’ll get you the number when my wife is up. We are impressed with the results.

  • Here’s the PAV info: NATR inc. at 1-800-422-4716. I think they have a web site.

  • Here’s the PAV info: NATR inc. at 1-800-422-4716. I think they have a web site.

  • PAV wbsite is NATRhealth.com

  • PAV wbsite is NATRhealth.com

  • I’ve bookmarked the site but I know my lazy ways–something about ordering stuff–I never get around to it. I’m stuck in Eureka one day a week and then I am forced to do shopping so I would have got the PAV that way. I’m not sure I’ll deal but I’ll try.

  • I’ve bookmarked the site but I know my lazy ways–something about ordering stuff–I never get around to it. I’m stuck in Eureka one day a week and then I am forced to do shopping so I would have got the PAV that way. I’m not sure I’ll deal but I’ll try.

  • When Robert and I got together, he had a dog that was the best dog ever. But he always twirled the ticks off of her. I was surprised to see this work on a tick. The technique is hard for me to be sure I am describing correctly, but let me try. You start by putting your finger on the side of the tick, then slowly work your finger around, all the sides so that the tick is spinning under your finger. I think what happens is the tick gets dizzy or something and just lets go. I have seen it work so many times that I really try not to just yank them out anymore, but that was what I have done all my life, so it’s hard to remember to twirl them instead of panicking and yanking. I know that I should have done that when I spied a little tick on Rebecca when she was a little baby, I panicked and pulled, and then the head was still in her tiny neck. There it festered for a week before falling out, I had much time to regret pulling that thing out… live and learn. Give this method a twirl, on your dog first for sure. Good luck.

  • When Robert and I got together, he had a dog that was the best dog ever. But he always twirled the ticks off of her. I was surprised to see this work on a tick. The technique is hard for me to be sure I am describing correctly, but let me try. You start by putting your finger on the side of the tick, then slowly work your finger around, all the sides so that the tick is spinning under your finger. I think what happens is the tick gets dizzy or something and just lets go. I have seen it work so many times that I really try not to just yank them out anymore, but that was what I have done all my life, so it’s hard to remember to twirl them instead of panicking and yanking. I know that I should have done that when I spied a little tick on Rebecca when she was a little baby, I panicked and pulled, and then the head was still in her tiny neck. There it festered for a week before falling out, I had much time to regret pulling that thing out… live and learn. Give this method a twirl, on your dog first for sure. Good luck.

  • That’s sort of what I do. I twirl them mostly in a counter clockwise direction and they do come out but so does just straight pulling but I’m not sure which way leaves the head in the most. I’ve had it happen with both methods.

  • That’s sort of what I do. I twirl them mostly in a counter clockwise direction and they do come out but so does just straight pulling but I’m not sure which way leaves the head in the most. I’ve had it happen with both methods.

  • So, did you finally settle on a method of removing the ticks?

  • So, did you finally settle on a method of removing the ticks?

  • Yes, I do what I’ve always done. Work my fingers around them and under their “shoulders” and gentle twirl them (I can’t say one direction or the other makes much difference) until they fall out and then I throw them in the fireplace. But, if you’ve got a better solution, please let me know.

  • Yes, I do what I’ve always done. Work my fingers around them and under their “shoulders” and gentle twirl them (I can’t say one direction or the other makes much difference) until they fall out and then I throw them in the fireplace. But, if you’ve got a better solution, please let me know.

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