Finding a tick on your body or in your house is never a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, the risks of being exposed to ticks are a lot more concerning than simple unpleasantness. Ticks carry a range of diseases that they can transfer to their hosts after a successful bite. Prime among these debilitating disorders is Lyme disease, a condition that, with an estimated 300,000 new cases a year, is getting close to being classified as a pandemic. So even though they’re tiny, ticks can present massive problems for people, especially if they make it indoors. However, ticks don’t make a point of seeking out interiors of houses; they’re outdoor creatures that thrive in woodlands and grass. So how long can a tick live in a house?
The first thing most people worry about with any insect is the possibility of an infestation. Cockroaches and bedbugs have a habit of infesting homes, and once they do, most people require professional help in order to eliminate them. So can a house become infested with ticks? Well, the good news is that, although it depends on the type of tick and what stage of life it’s at, the short answer to this is no. There is very little chance that a tick will make its home indoors. But what can happen, due to bad timing, is a pregnant female tick being brought indoors by a person or a pet. When the tick drops off, she will likely lay her eggs inside the house, which can mean a cluster of hundreds of larvae. This can also happen if two ticks mate indoors. However, this is a rare case; most often, ticks that are brought indoors will simply crawl around in the hope of finding their next host.
Ticks are primarily outdoor creatures. They are not insects; they are arachnids, from the same family as spiders. They rely on blood meals to survive, and need to regularly find hosts, although the time they can go between meals varies with each species. Contrary to what many people believe, ticks cannot run, fly, jump or hop. They also don’t live in trees, or fall out of them. When they search for a host, they take up a position known as questing, which sees them cling to the very edge of a piece of grass or bark with their front legs stretched out. This easily allows them to attach themselves to any passing mammal. They usually quest at about knee-height. Then, when they successfully make contact with a human host, they can crawl further up the body to find the perfect site to bite.
All ticks are brought indoors by hosts. When they’ve completed feeding, ticks will drop off the host and take some time to recover from the feed. This is where they can become loose in the house. Usually a pet is the primary source of tick infiltration, as cats and dogs are likely to pick them up while roaming outdoors. On the off chance that ticks do lay eggs in your house, they should be easily visible to the naked eye. As ticks aren’t comfortable in an indoor environment, they won’t look to hide away or burrow in anywhere. If you’re worried about a tick infestation, look around skirting boards and the edges of rugs for evidence of eggs. If indeed you do have a tick problem, these shouldn’t be hard to spot. You can then vacuum up any loose ticks, or call experts in if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.
The best way to prevent any chance of a tick infestation is to check yourself and your pets thoroughly when you come back from a walk in the woods. Ticks are tiny insects, but they are easily visible to the naked eye. When they feed, they balloon up in size and turn a milky white colour. By checking for any potential stragglers before you come back inside, you seriously minimise the risk of ticks invading your home. If you’re worried about ticks on clothing, the recommended best practice is to tumble-dry your clothes on a high heat setting for at least ten minutes. If the clothes are damp, you may need to take a little more time. Cold and medium temperature water will not sufficiently eradicate ticks, nor will simply washing clothes. Drying on high heat has been proven to be 100% effective, and is an easy way to give yourself peace of mind if you’ve been out walking in grassy or woodland areas.
Ticks pose a very real threat to people, despite their size. Lyme disease can be one of the most debilitating conditions a person can suffer from, and it always starts from one tiny tick bite. The disease progresses if it’s not caught early, potentially resulting in life-changing issues further down the line. Chronic Lyme is very difficult to treat and requires a delicate balance of antibiotics and nutritional approaches. Companies like Make Well are committed to producing ranges of all-natural supplements designed to help support the treatment of chronic conditions such as Lyme disease, which very few doctors are literate in. However, all Lyme-centric issues can be avoided by prevention, and prevention starts with being aware of the dangers that ticks pose, both inside and outside the house.