Finding just one tick can be upsetting, but the thought of finding a whole nest? Yikes!
However, a tick nest may not be what you imagine. It’s more like a clump of eggs, and a very small one at that. Usually, tick nests are found outdoors, but it’s not impossible for one to appear in your home or at least your garage or shed.
If you do come across one, it’s important to know what to do and what not to do.
Unlike other animals that build a nest to house their eggs, a female tick simply deposits her eggs in a given location. There’s no assembling of materials to make a nest or occupation of a nest built by another creature.
The female tick simply attaches a sticky cluster of tiny eggs to a blade of grass, a leaf, or other relatively soft spots like a little patch of soil. Then the tick abandons the eggs.
Even though tick nests may include hundreds or even thousands of eggs, they’re quite small. A cluster of tick eggs is about an inch or less across. The eggs remain stuck together until they hatch, which can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months after they are laid.
After a tick hatches from its egg, it’s a six-legged larva. It then grows into an eight-legged nymph and then into an adult. At each stage, a tick feeds on a host and then leaves the host before maturing into the next stage.
However, ticks often die before finding a new host on which to feed, according to the
Tick nests are usually found outdoors at ground level, often near a trail or habitat of a potential host, such as a deer or other mammal.
Can you have a tick nest in your house?
Unfortunately (and this is the concerning part), a female tick inside the home may lay her eggs amid carpet fibers or on soft furniture or curtains.
A tick infestation in your home means nests may be found along baseboards or in protected corners of the house, garage, shed, or dog kennel. A female tick may lay eggs in the pockets or linings of coats and other articles of clothing.
It’s unusual to find a tick nest out in the open where it could be easily seen or damaged. Because of this and the small size of an egg clutch, finding a tick nest in your house could be very difficult.
Tick eggs are usually sort of amber or brown in color and have a glassy appearance.
If you see what looks like a tick nest outdoors, stay away. If it’s in your yard, garden, or otherwise near your home, don’t try to drown it with a hose or stomp on it. Ticks are remarkably tough and can survive those kinds of attacks.
Using gloves and tools, you can try to remove the nest and soak it in alcohol. This should kill all the eggs. But it’s important not to touch a tick nest, as the eggs can carry disease.
If you see a tick nest in your home, you can try vacuuming it up. Then you must seal the vacuum bag immediately and throw it away.
Inspect other likely nest locations and check your body, especially your hair for any mature ticks.
If you have pets, check them for ticks daily, especially if they spend time outside. If you, your kids, or anyone else in the house is in an area known to have ticks, check for the insects before coming inside.
A tick can live 2 to 3 years, but they need a blood host to survive. So if a tick doesn’t find an animal (including humans) upon which to feed, it will die soon.
A 2020 study suggests that soft ticks feed on an animal for about an hour and then leave the host. A female won’t lay her eggs on a host.
Hard-shelled ticks may feed up to 12 days or so before leaving the host — usually for mating or to lay eggs.
Male ticks often die soon after mating. Females die shortly after laying their eggs.
The most well-known tick-related health risk is Lyme disease.
However, this disease is only transmitted by an infected black-legged or deer tick. A newly discovered disease caused by a bacterium in the same group as the one responsible for Lyme disease is also a concern for people venturing outdoors.
But these diseases are caused by the bites of adult ticks. A tick spreads disease with its bite, so if you can dispose of a nest before the eggs hatch, your risk is low. The key is to remove a tick nest if it’s in or near your home.
How to remove a tick
It’s important to remove a tick as soon, but as safely, as possible. The longer a disease-carrying tick feeds, the greater the chance you could become sick. But you don’t want to just grab a tick and twist it out, because that can leave part of the tick embedded in your skin.
Follow these steps to remove a tick safely:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin’s surface.
- Slowly pull the tick up from the skin without bending or twisting the tick.
- Examine the bite site. If you see any of the insect’s remains, carefully remove them.
- Wash the site with soap and water.
- Submerge the tick in rubbing alcohol and seal it in a plastic bag or container.
- See a doctor soon. You may need to show a doctor the tick to determine if it’s one that carries a disease and whether you need any treatment.
Usually, a tick bite is harmless and painless. Ticks tend to look for areas where the skin is thinner. They also often settle in on the head or under the arm, but they can bite anywhere on the body.
If you develop an allergic reaction or develop a disease from the tick, then it may be easier to detect the bite. The bite site may become painful and swollen, and be marked by a red spot, blister, or rash.
So unless you see the tick on your skin or become ill, you may never know you were a host.
When to seek medical care for a tick bite
If you have been bitten by a disease-carrying tick and become ill, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may experience some of the following symptoms:
- a spot or rash at the bite site
- a rash elsewhere on the body
- neck stiffness
- muscle and joint pain
If your allergic reaction is severe, you may also develop breathing troubles along with skin reaction at the bite site. If this occurs, call 911.
Female ticks usually lay their eggs in the spring or summer. This means that those are the dangerous months for tick bites.
Remember that most tick bites are harmless. But they should be taken seriously, since many of these insects can carry disease.
While tick nests are usually found outdoors in high grass or among leaves and other debris, they can appear inside. This usually happens when a tick has fed on a pet or resident of the home and falls from the host indoors.
Check yourself thoroughly if you’re outside in areas where ticks can be found, and do the same with a pet that spends time outside. This is your best defense against tick nests showing up in your home.
But if you do find a nest, don’t panic. Carefully vacuum it up and seal the bag before throwing it away.
Special pesticide powders can help fight tick infestations indoors, and outdoor pest control may help, too. Keeping your grass cut short and keeping other nesting sites away from your home will lower your risk of finding tick eggs that may grow into harmful pests.