© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mayo, matches and other ways to NOT get rid of ticks

Consumer Reports / Black legged tick removal

Environmental experts are debunking old myths when it comes to removing a tick.

There are several species of ticks that call the Great Lakes region home. The most common is the Black-legged Tick. It’s the one responsible for Lyme disease and the Powassan virus.

So, if a tick latches on to you -- or your loved one or pet -- what should you do?

Some say, light a match and burn the tick. Or apply Vaseline, mayonnaise or kerosene.

“All these things ... act on the principle, if you irritate this tick enough, the tick will want to back out of me and leave,” said Bryon Backenson, an epidemiologist with the New York State Health Department.

But he says these are all myths -- and examples of what not to do if a tick latches on.

A tick salivates once it bites you. It’s through the saliva that diseases can be transmitted.

And though it may seem like these methods work, Backenson says, "It’s important to basically to try to remove the tick without it salivating more than it necessary has to.” 

He recommends using fine point tweezers.

Getting as close to the head of the tick as you possibly can—and then pull upwards. It’s a method that he says works in every situation.