How Long Can A Tick Live Without A Host? 'Terri-tick' Facts To Know!

Anamika Balouria
Oct 18, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Mar 04, 2022
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
How long can a tick live without a host? Read on to learn about the life cycle of ticks, Lyme disease, and species of tick.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.4 Min

In the United States, the black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, is primarily responsible for transmitting Lyme disease when it feeds on food such as blood.

The American dog tick and the lone star tick can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, respectively. In northern Europe, the castor bean tick is often blamed when people get sick from tick bites.

Ticks usually carry a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease in humans. How long can ticks live or survive? It varies depending on the host and food type that these larvae and adults feed on to live or survive. The environment is surrounded by many small creatures that live or survive on each other. They feed on eggs as their food or survive without food through a particular stage of their life.

How long do ticks live on clothing?

If you can visually see that the species of tick has detached fully from your child's skin, then there should be a low risk of developing Lyme disease.

Ticks can live on a cloth for 36-48 hours. Infected ticks will transmit Lyme bacteria into the body only after feeding for 36-48 hours. Of course, if you find even one small spot of red or rash-like marks on your child's skin after their trip, consult your family doctor immediately. As long as all blood-sucking infected parasites bite or feed on blood, they can cause Lyme disease.

So, on your child's clothing, you will need to check all areas, including folds, collars, and cuffs, for species of ticks. Wash the clothes to kill any ticks that might be on them. Ticks do not burrow into clothes, and they will attach to the surface of clothing and stay there until the next opportunity arises.

Hot water is recommended. There is no reason for extended exposure as all life stages of ticks require blood meals before dying naturally.

Lyme disease starts with flu-like symptoms, but it can cause neurological issues, cognitive symptoms, and other problems if left untreated. Even a washing machine fails to kill the nymph and adult ticks sometimes as they thrive in moist conditions. Hence, a dryer is also recommended. To control species of ticks, you need to be precautious.

How long can a tick live underwater?

When ticks swim, they will cling to anything in the water, such as aquatic plants and other debris. They can survive underwater for up to two to three days.

You may bathe, shower, or sit in a bathtub and still have ticks on your body. Ticks are unable to swim. Their tiny bodies and tiny legs are not designed for swimming. On the other hand, deer ticks are not harmed by being underwater. Ticks can live or survive for two to three days, typically without a host underwater. That is a long time to sit in the hot tub, and adults or nymphs along with larvae might eventually die out.

Even if water could kill ticks, it's not a good idea to destroy them. You don't want to remove the tick if it has become lodged in your body. Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible, and then pull it out using tweezers or special tick removal tools. You may feel compelled to dump the tick down the toilet once it has been removed. Avoid and disregard this urge, as it could take days for them to die underwater.

In summer, deer ticks feed on hosts and live in varied habitats similar to those of\u00a0lone star species.

How long do ticks live on humans?

This is an interesting question as it's often not as simple as you might think. The infected ticks that survive on humans will feed on human blood and transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Q-fever.

They can easily transmit these diseases and, in this way, become a significant source of infection. The most common tick that lives on humans for long periods is Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as the deer tick or black-legged tick. From eggs until they become adult ticks, lone star ticks can survive without feeding for around 430 days. The lone star survives in summer with a varied habitat in each stage in or outside the house.

These ticks are one of the carriers of Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. They are tiny, about 0.039 in (1 mm) in size, and have a two-year life cycle during which they survive by living on the blood of mice, deer, squirrels, and other rodents. Ixodes scapularis attach themselves to people for more than seven days.

The risk of getting infected with Lyme is higher if you spend your time in areas where plenty of hosts carry the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium (deer and rodents). Ticks inject saliva into the skin of the host. They stay attached to the host and fight against grooming or other unwanted actions that can cause them to detach from the body. In addition, a tick's saliva secretes anticoagulants that prevent blood coagulation and make this important process easier for them.

How long do ticks live on dogs and cats?

Ticks can suck the blood of animals for several days. If you find ticks on your pet, know that they irritate the animal and potentially spread disease.

The American dog tick has three active life stages: egg, six-legged larva, and eight-legged nymph. Under ideal conditions, a tick takes approximately two years to complete its life cycle. However, this time frame may vary depending upon environmental conditions such as temperature or humidity. The adult female lays her eggs in the spring and summer months after she has had her last blood meal.

The hatched larvae feed on any tiny organism they can find, including small rodents, birds, and reptiles. The larvae then develop into nymphs. Nymphs are very active from spring through early fall. They feed on larger hosts such as dogs and humans during this stage of life, but they also feed on smaller mammals like mice in houses. After feeding for approximately five days, the nymph drops off its host to digest its meal before molting into an adult tick.

The American dog tick lives in areas with high humidity or moisture; it is typically found in grassland habitats with moderate vegetation cover. They may also be found on animals near forested areas where mountain laurel grows. Adult ticks have been known to climb up blades of grass so that they will be picked up by passing dogs or other host animals to bite and feed upon.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, transmitted to dogs and humans through tick bites. It causes high fevers, lethargy, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Dogs may also develop anemia due to blood loss. The lone star tick spreads diseases such as ehrlichiosis, which causes flu symptoms.

Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease in dogs today. This illness gets its name from Lyme, Connecticut, an area where many cases have been reported in humans and animals alike. Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacterium that causes Lyme disease; it is usually passed on to dogs and cats through bites of infected black-legged or deer ticks.

In addition to humans, the brown dog tick feeds on several different mammals, including dogs, wolves, wild mice, and voles, as well as birds. The brown dog tick is known for causing death in rare cases. Brown dog ticks are known to carry multiple pathogens, and some tick bites can cause paralysis as well. Brown dog ticks primarily affect dogs; however, their bite can lead to Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans.

Tick paralysis results from a neurotoxin found in tick saliva that affects the central nervous system; it usually begins with hind leg weakness and progresses up the body until the animal cannot stand or breathe. It typically occurs in dogs that several adult ticks have bitten over days or weeks. However, young pets and cats can also be affected by tick paralysis if they are bitten by more than one female tick.

Remove any ticks you find and bring your pet to a veterinarian right away. Tick paralysis in dogs begins with hind-leg weakness and progresses up the body until the dog can't stand or breathe. If you see any of these signs, remove any tick you find in your house and immediately take your pet to the vet.

What should you do if you find a tick on your body?

These bites are dangerous because they're hard to spot and have been known to cause long-term health problems if left untreated.

Do not panic. Remove the tick from your body as soon as possible because ticks can transmit disease. However, don't panic if you discover a tick, as you may have time to deal with it calmly and efficiently. Ticks take hours to days to transmit infections, so their mere presence is not enough reason for alarm yet.

A female deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) can attach to a human host. When identifying a dangerous foreign object in your skin, it's important to know what you're looking for. Ticks are tiny, eight-legged arachnids that live off of blood. The first thing to look out for is the tick's head to drift their feed.

The second part to look out for is its body. Ticks usually have three sections: a head, an abdomen, and eight legs (in some cases, female ticks or nymphs can also have vestigial wings). While both sexes can transmit disease-causing pathogens to humans through their bites, female ticks are more likely to do so. This is because they require a blood meal to lay eggs, which can take several days.

Typically, ticks are dark brown or black but can also be red or tan, depending on their diet. Some species, such as American dog ticks, can live or survive for 24 hours to several in a humid car or indoors when a tick lays eggs, larvae, and feeds on their food host.

How To Take Off A Tick

There are different ways of taking off species of ticks. If the head is left in the skin, you can take the larvae or adults out with tweezers or apply alcohol or heat to pull them out.

You can also use any other substance that would make the tick detach from your body without letting its mouthparts stay in the skin. However, these substances must not be applied directly to the skin. After leaving the tick's body, it will detach slowly, and its head may remain in your skin.

To control lone star, American dog ticks, or any other tick species, use special tick-killing substances before removing the larvae and adult ticks feeding on the skin. When killing species of ticks such as American dog ticks or deer ticks, you should avoid touching their bodies and wash your hands.

You can also use alcohol to kill ticks before removing them from the skin. Some people use dry cotton balls to kill ticks. The tick's mouthparts should also be removed from your body if it has left some behind.

One should grasp the adults with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull them out slowly. This will prevent the salivary glands' juices from spreading through your body along with the tick's mouthparts.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
Read full bio >