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Tips on sending ticks for identification

Labs like to get large, fully engorged live ticks with undamaged mouthparts, as these can be important for identification.

Use a tick removal tool to take the tick off without any risk of squeezing. Place the hook against the skin underneath the tick and slide it until the tick is wedged in the V, then gently pull the tool away from the skin while twisting.

Otherwise use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull straight up with steady, even pressure – avoid twisting or jerking as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off.

Directly transfer the live tick to ventilated, escape-proof containers. Do not refrigerate as low temperatures may kill live ticks. (Small ticks can be preserved in 70% alcohol.) Send the sample promptly with the appropriate packaging and paperwork.