How to Kill Ticks in Your Home

by Judith Willson
Ticks cling to long grass waiting for an animal to walk past.

Ticks cling to long grass waiting for an animal to walk past.

Tick crawling on grass. image by blindfire from Fotolia.com

If your household contains any people or animals who spend time outdoors, you could easily find a few unwanted guests. Ticks latch on to fur or clothing, clinging tightly until they drop off, usually after feeding. Your yard might also be hosting a thriving population of ticks just waiting for somebody to brush against them and provide a nice warm meal. Since ticks can carry a range of sometimes serious diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, it’s highly unlikely you want the new arrivals to settle in and multiply.

Step 1

Kill ticks you see crawling in your home by picking them up with tweezers and crushing them. If you have pale furnishings, it is possible you’ll notice the odd tick. Tick infestations inside are rare, but possible.

Step 2

Vacuum your entire home thoroughly, including furnishings as well as floors.

Step 3

Remove the vacuum cleaner bag, put it into a trash bag, tie it tightly and place the bag into an outside garbage can. Repeat the vacuuming daily until you are certain there are no ticks left.

Step 4

Inspect yourself, family members and pets for ticks daily and immediately after any walks outside. Ticks look a bit like very small spiders, until they have eaten, at which point they look like very small, very fat spiders. If you find any, remove them with a pair of fine-pointed tweezers. Grasp each tick firmly near its head and pull. Preserve the ticks in a small glass jar of rubbing alcohol, which also kills the tick quickly. This is a safety precaution in case the bitten person or pet develops symptoms of a tick-borne disease – a vet or doctor can arrange for tests on the tick.

Step 5

Remove tick hangouts from your garden or yard. It is unlikely that ticks will set up home inside, but they certainly can outside. Trim bushes, shrubs, grass and other vegetation along paths and other places with a lot of human or animal traffic. Ticks hold on to overhanging plants waiting for animals to walk past.

Step 6

Install animal-proof fences around your yard. The main host animal of local ticks is likely to be a common wild or farm animal in the area, notably deer. If these animals venture into your garden, they may bring the ticks with them.

Items You Will Need

  • Fine-pointed tweezers
  • Bagged vacuum cleaner
  • Trash bags
  • Glass jar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pruning shears
  • Fencing
  • Small plastic bag
  • Protective clothing

Tips

  • Longhaired pet breeds, for example Persian cats, poodles and Angora rabbits, should have their fur clipped, especially during the spring and summer. An overgrown coat not only collects dirt, it also collects pests and makes finding ticks on your pet extremely difficult.
  • To kill a tick or another invertebrate as humanely as possible, freeze it in a plastic bag.
  • Wear long pants and long sleeved tops when you go outside to reduce the chance of a tick latching on.

Warning

  • Don’t try the home remedy of burning a tick with a lit cigarette; this makes it disgorge the blood it has ingested, increasing the risk of infection. Burning a tick also means its mouthparts are left behind, which could cause a nasty sore to develop. This also applies to twisting with the tweezers or trying to suffocate the tick with petroleum jelly.

Photo Credits

  • Tick crawling on grass. image by blindfire from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.