Can Ticks Live in Water?

Author: Gabrielle Marks

Ticks can live in water.

More Info: Researchers have observed that adult unfed ticks can remain safely submerged in water for up to three weeks.  Ticks breathe through two spiracles that are covered with a sieve plate and numerous small holes.  Researchers are currently investigating this phenomenon speculating that the sieve plate may act as a plastron, which is in a sense, breathing through gills like fish. 

Plastron Respiration in Ticks or How Do Ticks Mange to Live Under Water? - Truman State University.

Will Soap and Water Kill a Tick?

Though many professionals including state department of health websites suggest to wash your clothes following woods activities to kill any stray ticks, a recent experiment conducted by the USDA concluded that most tick species do not die in this manner.  In the study, an Agriculture Research Service entomologist sent a variety of tick species through the wash cycles, altering both detergent types and water temperature and found that most ticks survived especially when the water was not set on hot.  Interesting, most ticks died when sent through the dryer set on a high heat setting suggesting that it is high temperatures for prolonged periods that kill ticks and not water.

How Long Do Deer Ticks Live?

The deer tick, the only tick to transmit Lyme disease, will live for about two years.  Ticks progress through three stages, larva, nymph, and adult.  Each life stage requires a blood meal to progress to the next.  When the adult female has had her final meal, she drops off her host, lays her eggs, and then dies.  The adult male will die after he mates.  The entire cycle progresses through a span of approximately two years.


Works Cited

Truman State University
Plastron Respiration in Ticks or How Do Ticks Mange to Live Under Water?

US Department of Agriculture
Ticks Don't Come Out In The Wash

American Lyme Disease Foundation
Deer Tick Ecology

purple arrowCite this Article

"Can Ticks Live in Water?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <>.  

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