Question: How long does a tick stay attached? [2021]

How long does a tick stay attached?

How long does a tick stay attached

How Blacklegged Ticks (Deer Ticks) Live

TERC Answer: The length of time a tick stays attached depends on the tick species, tick life stage and the host immunity.

It also depends on whether you do a daily tick check.

Generally if undisturbed, larvae remain attached and feeding for about 3 days, nymphs for 3-4 days, and adult females for 7-10 days.

How to Prevent Tick Diseases

How long does a tick stay engorged?

“How long does it take for a tick to become fully engorged? It takes two to three days for nymphs and four to seven days for adults to become fully engorged. Usually it takes 36 hours for a tick to infect you, IF it has Lyme bacteria.

How long should placenta stay attached?

There is a new trend in the world of natural birthing methods. Some mothers are opting for “lotus births,” where the umbilical cord is not cut immediately after birth. Instead, the baby remains attached until the placenta and cord dry up and fall off on their own, usually after 3 to 10 days.

How long does a tick stay on a dog?

Once a host is found, a mature tick feeds until it swells to 10 times its original size. Some males stay on the host up to three years, engorging, mating and repeating the cycle; females engorge, fall off, lay eggs and die. Some species can stay on your dog for three months, others for three years.

Tick FAQ

Ticks are small insect-like creatures. They feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Adults have eight legs and flat pear-shaped bodies that fill with blood as they feed. Because ticks feed on blood, they can transmit diseases that affect humans and other animals.

Worldwide, there are about 850 tick species and 30 major tick-borne diseases. In the Northeast and Midwest of the U.S. people usually encounter blacklegged ticks, American dog ticks and lone star ticks.

  1. What are the most common tick species in the U.S. and the most common diseases they can transmit?
Species Where? Associated diseases
Blacklegged tick

(Ixodes scapularis)

Northeastern and upper midwestern U.S. (Also present in the southern U.S., but they are less likely to bite humans) Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan disease,ehrlichiosis, and hard tick relapsing fever
American dog tick

(Dermacentor variabilis)

East of the Rocky Mountains and in limited areas on the Pacific Coast of the U.S.. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia
Lone Star tick

(Amblyomma americanum)

Southeastern and eastern U.S. Human monocytic ehrlichiosis, tularemia
Gulf Coast tick

(Amblyomma maculatum)

Coastal areas and some inland areas of the southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis (a form of spotted fever)
Western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) Along the Pacific coast of the U.S. Anaplasmosis and Lyme disease
Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) Rocky Mountain states from 4,000 to 10,500 feet. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, and tularemia
Brown dog tick

(Rhipacephalus sanguineus)

Throughout the U.S., but mainly associated with canine-inhabited dwellings Rocky Mountain spotted fever (southwestern US)

For a more information on which ticks can be found in your region click here

Ticks have four life stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Larvae and nymphs need to take a blood meal to molt and grow from to the next stage. Female adult ticks feed on blood to lay eggs, while males feed very little and attach to animal hosts primarily to find a female. Thus, many ticks need to find and feed on at least three hosts in their lifetimes.

The life cycle takes at least a year to complete, depending on the specie and where they live. Unfavorable climatic conditions may delay these processes so that only one life stage can be completed each year. These environmental limitations can extend the duration of the life cycle to as long as 3 years for some tick species.

Life cycle of the blacklegged tick in the northern U.S.: Source: CDC

  1. When are blacklegged ticks active?

Tick activity depends on the life stage and weather conditions. Different stages are active at different times of the year.

People are most likely to encounter nymphs, which usually go unnoticed because of their tiny size.

Nymphs are most active in the spring and early summer (May-July). In forests, they are mostly found in the leaf litter and on low lying vegetation. Nymphs molt into adult ticks which are most active in the fall (October-November). This general life cycle pattern varies among regions in the U.S. due to differences in environmental conditions. Ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are above freezing.

  1. How do ticks survive winter?

During the winter, ticks become dormant, allowing them to survive during unfavorable environmental conditions.

Ticks wait for a host to feed on on the tips of grasses, leaf litter, and shrubs, in a position known as “questing”. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to a host as it passes by. Ticks don’t fall down from trees, jump or fly!

When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, belly button or other areas where it is easier to feed (skin is thinner) or it is warm and humid.

Some species, like the lone star tick, display a more aggressive behavior, actively pursuing hosts. They find their hosts by detecting breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations.

Ticks feed by latching on to an animal or person, embedding their mouthparts into the host’s skin and sucking its blood. Most people that o get bitten by a tick won’t feel anything because tick saliva has numbing properties. However, some people will feel itching.

Source: Created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios

  1. What does a tick bite look like?

If you are bitten by a tick, a small red bump may appear in a few days to a week, usually at the site of the bite, which may feel warm and tender when touched. This should not be mistaken for the bull’s eye rash which is a hallmark of Lyme disease.

If this tick has transmitted the Lyme disease bacterium, the redness may expand over the next weeks and form a round or oval red rash that is bigger than 2 inches in size. and sometimes there is a a red ring surrounding a clear area and a red center (i.e., the “bullseye”), but often the rash is uniformly red or reddish-blue and is slightly tender and itchy.

  1. How long does a tick stay attached?

The length of time a tick stays attached depends on the tick species, tick life stage and host response to the bite. Generally if undisturbed, larvae remain attached and feeding for about 3 days, nymphs for 3-4 days, and adult females for 7-10 days.

  1. What does a blood-fedfed tick look like?

As they take more and more blood, ticks change dramatically in appearance.

Original images: left and right.

Male black-legged tick on a fully engorged female black-legged tick.

Source: Graham Hickling – [email protected], Center for Wildlife Health, University of Tennessee Knoxville

  1. Are all ticks infected with disease-causing microbes?

Not all ticks are infected. Only a portion of ticks will get infected with a microbe that can cause disease in humans. For most pathogens, ticks are born uninfected and only those ticks that feed on an infected host become infected. The state that is most likely to transmit a disease is the nymph. As larvae, they often become infected by feeding on an infected mouse or a chipmunk, but perhaps a shrew or robin. They don’t become infected if they feed on deer, lizard, and less likely if they feed on a raccoon, opossum or catbird. Then after they develop into nymphs, they can transmit a pathogen during their next blood meal.

  1. How can I know if a tick is infected?

There is no way to know based on appearance: infected and uninfected ticks look the same. In the Tick identification section you can find a list of tick identification and testing services. Important note: Even if the tick is infected, that does not mean you are infected, because infection requires many steps, such as whether the number of pathogens in the tick were high enough or if the tick fed long enough to transmit the pathogen to you. Conversely, even if the tick is not infected, that does not mean you can not be infected; you might have not seen another nymph that was infected and bit you.

Want to know more about ticks? Watch this video!


Disclaimer: The “TickApp” is intended to be informational; it provides no clinical assessments or diagnoses. Please contact your physician if you have any medical concerns.

13. What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacterium carried by blacklegged ticks. It is a disease that is becoming more common in the U.S.. Lyme disease is very common in parts of the midwestern and northeastern U.S. states, particularly where ticks can find mice and deer in wooded areas in proximity to humans.

If a blacklegged tick is infected with the Lyme disease bacterium, the organism can be transmitted with the tick’s saliva as it feeds on the host. In the case of Lyme disease, at least 36 to 48 hours of feeding is typically required for a tick to transmit the bacterium. This may be shorter if multiple ticks are feeding at the same time.

  1. Is there a vaccine against Lyme disease?

Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine available to protect people from Lyme disease. A Lyme disease vaccine was available until 2002 but was discontinued by the manufacturer.

  1. What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Within about one month after infection, Lyme disease often shows up with a red rash (usually expanding from the site of the tick bite), headache, fever, and sometimes joint pain. The rash, called erythema migrans, is a hallmark of Lyme disease and appears in about 70-80% of infected people.

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  1. When should I go to the physician?

Always seek medical care if you are not feeling well.

The appearance of an expanding red rash accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, headache, fatigue and/or muscle and joint pains, may be signs of early Lyme disease, particularly during early summer and for people who live in blacklegged tick infested areas. Seek prompt medical attention if you encounter an attached tick, remove it, and take the tick with you to the health care center so that the tick can be identified and proper treatment administered.

If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, Lyme disease is usually curable. In its later stages treatment can be effective; some patients may have symptoms that linger for months or even years following treatment.

  1. Other tick-borne diseases: What about babesiosis and anaplasmosis?

Anaplasmosis and babesiosis are also transmitted by the blacklegged tick. Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and babesiosis is caused by Babesia microti, a microscopic parasite that infects red blood cells. Typical symptoms of either of these infections include fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks of a tick bite in the case of anaplasmosis. In the case of babesiosis symptoms usually develop within a few weeks or months, sometimes longer.

Anaplasmosis and babesiosis can lead to serious illnesses even in previously healthy people.

More information on these and other tick-transmitted disease can be found here.

  1. I read in the news that you can get a meat allergy from a tick bite – is this true?

Yes, in some cases bites from lone star ticks can lead to red meat allergies due to the body’s reaction to tick saliva. This allergy is characterized by hives or a severe allergic reaction appearing 4–8 hours after meat consumption. The carbohydrate alpha gal (galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose), which is found in red meat, is the likely cause of the reaction.

20. Do dog and cats get Lyme disease?

Yes. Just as with humans, it is important for animals to avoid tick bites and receive prompt treatment for Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease in animals are similar to the symptoms in humans.

In dogs: Symptoms include lethargy, arthritis (displayed as joint pain, shifting from foot to foot, and lameness), fever, fatigue, and kidney damage. The majority of dogs do not experience any signs of disease.

In cats: While there is some debate about whether cats suffer from Lyme disease, cats are thought to be highly resistant to the disease.

Sources used throughout the development of the Tick FAQ:

When a tick bites how long does it stay attached?

When a tick bites how long does it stay attached?

The length of time a tick stays attached depends on the tick species, tick life stage and the host immunity. It also depends on whether you do a daily tick check. Generally if undisturbed, larvae remain attached and feeding for about 3 days, nymphs for 3-4 days, and adult females for 7-10 days. Deer ticks feed a day or so faster than Lone Star ticks and American dog ticks. You might be interested in our tick growth comparison pictures; ticks change their appearance pretty dramatically as they feed which can make identifying them challenging.

Host immunity also can impact duration of tick attachment as well. Prior sensitization to specific proteins in tick saliva can make it harder for ticks to ingest blood. Sometimes it causes them to stay attached a bit longer but more commonly, it makes the host itch and frequently the tick is removed by the scratching.


to preventing tick-borne disease


The best way to avoid contracting a tick-borne illness is to avoid getting bitten by a tick in the first place. There are several easy, common-sense ways to reduce the likelihood of tick bites.

  • Tuck your pant legs inside your socks. This helps prevent ticks from crawling up inside your pant legs, where they can hide and gain access to the rest of your body.
  • Wear clothing treated with permethrin, a well-known and effective tick repellent. (Elimitick)
  • Frequently check yourself and others for ticks. Be sure to check in warm, dark areas like under waist bands and in armpits.
  • Remove tick habitat from around your home. Ticks love leaves, so in the spring, rake up and remove residual leafy matter from yard edges and under shady vegetation.
  • You can spray your yard and surrounding area with a proven tick-killing spray that will help reduce their population. A common insecticide is birfenthrin. Application strategy should match tick species. It’s best to apply this spray in spring.
  • Pets are big carriers of ticks. Apply tick repellents specially formulated to control the ticks that want to latch onto your pets.
  • If you’ve been out in tick country, before washing your non-treated clothing, throw it in a hot dryer for 10 minutes. This should kill any ticks that rode in on your clothes.


From the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center:

Often-repeated folk remedies such as touching the tick with a lit cigarette might have worked to remove American dog ticks, but these days the most common ticks people encounter are blacklegged (deer) ticks and Lone Star ticks. In their adult stages, these two tick species attach with great tenacity — they insert their longer hypostomes (mouthparts) deeper into the dermis than American dog ticks, and their hypostomes come with more backward-pointing denticles (barbs). Deer ticks also secrete a cement-like substance that glues them into the skin of the host. When the ticks become filled with blood, they secrete enzymes that dissolve the glue, allowing the tick to detach. Attached nymphal-stage ticks are just too small to touch with a lit cigarette without risking a skin burn or making the tick vomit into the bite site. Nymphs also attach with great tenacity.

Our testing staff at Tick Encounter have tried more than a dozen reportedly foolproof methods for tick removal, but pointy tweezers that allow you to grab even poppy-seed-sized nymphs close to the skin have proven to be the most consistently reliable means of removing all species and stages of ticks safely. Even if the hypostome breaks, the germs that can make you sick are further back in the tick’s body: in the salivary glands and gut.

If you want to get even with ticks, wear tick-repellent clothing they have to crawl over to get to you. They’ll die, and they probably won’t even get a chance to attach to you.

Steps to removing a tick safely:

  1. Use a TickEase specifically designed for ticks
  2. Disinfect with rubbing alcohol
  3. Grab tick close to skin and use a slow, steady motion to pull tick out
  4. Disinfect again
  5. Consider testing for infection


Nobody enjoys discovering a tick that’s dug its way into the skin by using its mouthparts in an effort to feed on blood. Ticks actually secrete a numbing agent, a kininasis, before digging in. That’s why you don’t feel them. But once you’ve discovered one, it’s important to remove it right away.According to the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center, Pathogen transmission only occurs after 24 hours of attachment.

Because one rarely knows exactly when a tick first penetrates the skin, especially on a youngster, prompt removal is essential in order to avoid the risk of Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses.

How Long Can a Tick Live on a Dog?

Your pooch ticked off over ticks? Just a couple of these incredibly pesky creatures can create a full-blown infestation in your yard or home if not treated in time. If ticks are common to your neck of the woods, it’s important to get to know your enemy in order to best protect your pooch!


With more than 850 species of ticks laying 3,000 to 4,000 eggs at a time, ticks can be a real problem for dogs. Once filled with blood, female ticks fall off the host, your dog, and lay eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae, called «seed ticks.» There are two life stages of seed ticks.

Seed Ticks

Seed ticks are the larvae of ticks. They have six legs at the first stage of their development. They embed in a host’s skin, feed for one to five days, fall to the ground and grow two more legs. Then they look for a second host. The eight-legged seed tick attaches to the second host until fully engorged, a process that takes three to 11 days.

ok how long will a tick stay on my dog for??

he has a tick right by his butt,he wipes it on the ground and he wont let me try to get it. it sounds grose but hey i gotta take care of him. i gave him a bath with flea and tick stuff butt its still there like 4 days later.i tried putting just the flea and tick shampoo on the tick to make it run but it didnt,its just there,and it seems like its getting

ok i just tried again and he bit the he** out of my arm,any suggestion??

ok he is biting the crap out of me everytime i try,i will just take him to the vet

Do you have a muzzle for the dog? Can you make a muzzle tie that can be wound around the muzzle three or four times and tied behind the back of his neck?

Or just get someone to help hold the dog in a leg lock—standing up with him facing out from between their knees and their hands on his muzzle.

If you paint the tick with rubbing alcohol, clear nail polish or I believe even vasoline to stop it’s ability to breathe, they usually come out. But if you do have a bit of time to actually grab hold of it, then take the tick out yourself instead of coating the body.

If it stays on the dog it could be days before it drops off, and if you miss where it goes, it could find you or the dog again later. It’s best to flush the tick down the toilet.

You have to get the tick off. It’s getting bigger because it’s filling itself up with your dog’s blood. A little tiny tick can grow to the size of a walnut if you let it stay. The worst thing that can happen is if is a female and has babies. Your poor dog will have not just one tick, but a whole lot of them.

Have someone help you hold the dog down and pull the tick off with tweezers. They also make things called tick spoons at the pet store, but you really don’t need them. Try and get the whole head of the tick, but if you can’t make sure you rub the spot where the tick was with some triple antibiotic ointment.


«To remove an attached tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or special tick removal instruments. These special devices allow one to remove the tick without squeezing the tick body. This is important as you do not want to crush the tick and force harmful bacteria to leave the tick and enter your pet’s bloodstream.

1. Grab the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. Do not grasp the tick by the body.

2. Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. Do not twist the tick as you are pulling.

3. Using methods such as applying petroleum jelly, a hot match, or alcohol will NOT cause the tick to ‘back out.’ In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound.

4. After removing the tick, place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are NOT killed by flushing them down the toilet.

5. Clean the bite wound with a disinfectant. If you want to, apply a small amount of a triple antibiotic ointment.

6. Wash your hands thoroughly.

How to Remove a Tick Please do not use your fingers to remove or dispose of the tick. We do not want you in contact with a potentially disease-carrying tick. Do NOT squash the tick with your fingers. The contents of the tick can transmit disease.

Once an embedded tick is manually removed, it is not uncommon for a welt and skin reaction to occur. A little hydrocortisone spray will help alleviate the irritation, but it may take a week or more for healing to take place. In some cases, the tick bite may permanently scar leaving a hairless area. This skin irritation is due to a reaction to tick saliva. Do not be worried about the tick head staying in; it rarely happens.»

See also:  ENT 425, General Entomology, Resource Library, Compendium lepidoptera
  • Mellia Boom Bot says:

    Never had a tick on me (as far as I know) until I moved to central France, Creuse specifically. my experience is that I could feel them with an ever so slight pinching effect. Ive never sought medical treatment though a neighbour or two have been affected badly. I think though that Im going to go over what garden we do have with a white sheet like the scientist does in the video, just to see what it picks up.

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