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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Ticks and Alcohol

This article was published originally on 5/18/2011

Stranger questions have been asked, but none recently. 
 
In a recent discussion about mushroom hunting and wood ticks (officially named the American dog tick) the question came up about what would happen to a tick attached to your skin if you got "really drunk.”  The question is, "Would a wood tick be killed by the alcohol in your blood?"
 
Hmm.  Very interesting, and a new question to us!  Lacking a research-based answer, and not really interested in conducting such research, we hypothesize the answer is, "um, no." 
 
Ticks do not take enough of your blood to imbibe a large quantity of alcohol (which by now is highly diluted in the blood stream), and further, if you did have enough alcohol in your blood to kill an attached tick, you have bigger problems than the tick; for example, alcohol poisoning.
 
We also take this random opportunity to remind you to NEVER mix ticks and alcohol.  That is, do not apply alcohol to an attached tick in an attempt to remove it.  Especially do not put alcohol on attached ticks and light them on fire!
 
The correct way to remove a tick remains, "Carefully remove the tick by using tweezers to grasp the tick’s mouthparts where they enter the skin. Pull steadily directly away from your skin. Because removing the tick is your main goal, do not be overly concerned if its mouthparts break off in the process.  Clean the wound and disinfect the site of the bite."  See ISU Extension bulletin PM2036.