This is topic odd ? ticks & pool chlorine in forum General Support at LymeNet Flash.

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Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
Sure that I haven't seen this here since I've been reading...

Does anyone know if ticks can survive in a chlorinated swimming pool? Seems to do in all the other insects who venture in. In the past have always jumped in after doing yardwork-(back in the day when I didn't feel the need to wear a full suit of armour while weeding [Frown] )

Maybe one of you tick experts have an idea?
Posted by meg (Member # 22) on :
Maybe someone could do an experiment....?
die tick die! [Big Grin]
Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
I don't have enough courage to go tick hunting to try an experiment!!!! Been so busy catching mice, scaring away chipmunks & spraying Sevin hoping the only ones we had in the yard were the ones that bit us last year!!!! [Smile] (yea right-)
Posted by just don (Member # 1129) on :
If it means anything,,,I was wondering about the same thing.

I dont have kids at home,,,but once did. Okay maybe asking for grandkids also.

IF a child has a tick attached somewhere that you dont see right away AND they take there 'nightly ' bath. IF they are in the tub and the tick is underwater,,,do they drown??? How long can they go without breathing???(IF thats what they do)))

And same question for YOUR pool deal,,chlorinated or no. They HAVE to drown eventually!! ??? Right?? Like a lake swim??

Okay dont everybody chime in at ONCE and burn down our server with overload!! What do you KNOW??? What do you think???besides--just don--
Posted by merrygirl (Member # 12041) on :
Well when I used to work at the animal hospital we had tick jars (now it creeps me out) and they would have rubbing alcohol in them and the ticks would smin around for quite a while 10 minutes or so

Not sure about chlorine... MElissa
Posted by Geneal (Member # 10375) on :

Most bugs that land in the pool, I believe drown.

They get so tired of trying to "swim" their way out.....

I would suggest that ticks are known to survive being flushed down the toilet.

If you are on city water, then there is chlorine in the water.

Maybe chlorine hastens their demise.....but I wouldn't be banking on that.

In my humble opinion, those little buggers would just float on top,

Wait for me to get in and "hitch a ride and a meal out".


Posted by meg (Member # 22) on :
No, no, one should go out and catch a tick [Big Grin] You'll see others on the board occasionally with ticks they've saved for testing or put in a jar for safety, etc.

If their heads are buried in our bodies, they can't be breathing can they?
I know some here have said they've bathed and still found a tick on them right afterward.

Chlorine in a high enough quantity is poisonous.
Chlorine gas was used in WWI as a killing agent.
Chlorine content in pools would be higher than drinking water.

I think they could drown eventually, or the chlorination would get them.

Guess we'd have to know if you get to the pruny stage or not [Big Grin] maybe length of time in the pool matters?--LOL
Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
Hmmm..think I will shock the pool more frequently just to be on the safe side [Smile] -It's in the back of our yard, near the woods-heard a deer barrelling through the brush a few feet away while I was trying to blissfully float !! That on top of catching 2 mice in two days in my basement was about enough to send me off the deep end (pun intended [Smile] )
Posted by treepatrol (Member # 4117) on :
Plastron respiration in ticks (Acari: Ixodidae)
Susan M. Villarreal, [email protected], Truman State University, tick group, Science Division, 100 East Normal, Kirksville, MO and Bach Q. Ha, Truman State University, Math & Computer Science Division, 100 East Normal, Kirksville, MO.

Ticks are blood-feeding arthropods that are well known for their survivability.

Although ticks are terrestrial organisms, they can survive extended periods of submergence under water as for example after heavy rainfall or flooding.

A plastron is a physical gill consisting of a thin layer of air trapped by hydrophobic hairs or other cuticular projections. Hence a plastron is an alternate respiration system that can absorb oxygen from water.

The complex spiracular plates of ticks have been postulated to serve as plastrons but until now, this has not been verified. In this study, we confirm the existence of plastron respiration in the dog tick Dermacentor variabilis.

Adult dog ticks can survive submergence in water for over two weeks. Wetting the spiracular plate with alcohol, thereby debilitating any potential plastron function lowered survival to less than three days.

Biomathematical studies currently in progress are modeling the efficiency of the spiracular plate as a plastron. We have developed a mathematical model to predict survivability of submerged ticks under water.

This model requires determination of a suite of physical and biological parameters including volume of the air film contained within the spiracular plate, the plastron air/water interface area and the oxygen consumption and biomass of the submerged tick.

It is hoped that this model can be successfully used in the future to predict underwater survivability of other species of ticks which show both interspecific and intergeneric morphological variation in spiracular plate structure. This study provides the first example of plastron respiration in the Ixodidae.

Plastron respiration in ticks (Acari: Ixodidae)

Surviving the flood : Plastron respiration in ticks
Project Description

This research is part of an ongoing study that is investigating the mechanism by which ticks are able to survive submersion under water. Why should anyone want to know whether ticks can survive submersion under water? Ticks are found in every terrestrial region of the world except Antarctica.

Many of these regions undergo substantial seasonal flooding with out any apparent serious impact on tick populations. Our research so far has demonstrated that ticks can remain submerged in water for extended periods of time (days to weeks) and that the mechanism used is a combination of plastron respiration and metabolic depression.

Ticks have two large spiracles for gas exchange. These spiracles are covered with a complex perforated sieve plate that traps air when the tick is submerged. This air-filled sieve plate functions as a plastron.

Oxygen from the water diffuses into this plastron which is linked to the tracheal system - a system of tubes that conducts air into the body. This oxygen extracted from the water appears sufficient to keep the tick alive for long periods of time.

This summer, our research lab wants to learn more about the why different species of ticks appear to have different survival abilities under conditions of flooding. We hypothesize that length of survival is related to the efficiency of the plastron in extracting oxygen from the water, as well as the metabolic demands of the tick while submerged.

Research this summer will focus on 1) continued development of a model for plastron efficiency and 2) testing this model on different species of ticks which show variation in plastron structure.

This study will involve working with several different species of ticks in submersion experiments, investigating the spiracular structure of ticks using light and scanning electron microscopy and determining metabolic rates of ticks using respirometry techniques.

The significance of this work relates to understanding why ticks are able to survive several years under natural conditions.

Extreme longevity is one of the reasons why ticks are important vectors of disease since they have the capability to outlive their hosts and thus serve as disease reservoirs.

Preliminary findings on plastron respiration are being presented by two of the Fielden tick-team research students Susan Villarreal and Bach Ha at the Entomological Society of America's Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale Fl in November, 2005.
Electron microscope image of a tick (Ixodes scapularis).

The single pair of large spiracles (site of the plastron)are situated behind the last pair of legs.

Surviving the flood : Plastron respiration in ticks

Respiration Patterns Play Key Role in Pest Biology

A. G. Appel, J. T. Vogt, and T. G. Shelton

Can you hold your breath for two hours? Some ticks can! Can you hold your breath for even 15 minutes? Fire ants can, and even longer!

Many insects and other arthropods such as ticks exhibit a discontinuous pattern of respiration. From the animal's perspective, periodic release of respiratory gases decreases the amount of body water lost during exhalation and aids respiration in high carbon dioxide, low oxygen nests and tunnels. Of particular interest from a pest control perspective, periodic respiration can prevent rapid inhalation of fumigants and other insecticides.

Respiration patterns of the beetle cockroach, Diploptera punctata, and red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, were examined using flow-through respirometry methods. Insects were placed into the respirometry system and allowed to acclimate for 10-30 minutes before each recording. To vary temperature, the respirometry chamber was placed into a computer-controlled incubator. Dry, carbon dioxide-free air was pulled through a respirometry chamber containing the insect and into a carbon dioxide analyzer. Air flow was regulated with a mass-flow controller and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air stream was recorded at one second intervals with a computer.

Discontinuous gas exchange can be broken down into three distinct phases. During the closed phase, the insect is not releasing any carbon dioxide (Figure 1, Point A). Following the closed phase, some carbon dioxide escapes from the insect (Figure 1, Point B). It is during this time that the insect is taking oxygen into the body, and the oxygen flowing in effectively blocks water from escaping the body, resulting in greater water economy for the insect. Finally, the insect releases a burst of carbon dioxide (burst phase, Figure 1, Point C) and the cycle repeats itself. For the beetle cockroach, the interburst phase at room temperature (about 77oF or 25oC) lasts up to five minutes. Interestingly, only motionless cockroaches that assume a resting posture respire discontinuously.

Figure 1. Burst and interburst periods of a discontinuous pattern of respiration.

The interburst period of the red imported fire ant is temperature sensitive (Figure 2) and ranged from about 40 minutes at 50oF (10oC) to almost one minute at 104oF (40oC).

Figure 2. Interburst periods decrease with increasing temperature in red imported fire ants.

Respiration patterns of native subterranean termites Reticulitermes sp. and the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, have also been examined. At room temperature, workers and soldiers respire continuously (Figure 3). These results are interesting because subterranean termites live in closed nests with low levels of oxygen and high concentrations of carbon dioxide; exactly the conditions for which the discontinuous pattern is thought to be adaptive.

Figure 3. Continuous respiration pattern in eastern subterranean termite worker at 72oF.


These studies have found discontinuous gas exchange patterns in a variety of important pests including cockroaches, fleas, red imported fire ants, and several other species. The presence of discontinuous gas exchange in pest species may help to explain control failures when fumigants and other volatile insecticides are used. Further research by AAES personnel has demonstrated that exposure to contact insecticides eliminates the discontinuous pattern of respiration making the insect more susceptible to desiccation and possibly easier to control. These studies highlight the importance of understanding the basic biology and physiology of pest species to advance modern pest control.

Appel is a Professor and Vogt and Shelton are Graduate Research Assistants in the Department of Entomology.
Respiration Patterns Play Key Role in Pest Biology
Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
Gee, thanks, I think, Tree!

"Why should anyone want to know whether ticks can survive submersion under water? "
... to find one place outdoors to really relax !

Quite the interesting,if unsettling, read.
Posted by just don (Member # 1129) on :
The rason for knowing same,,,

I had a guy once who said it isnt necessary to do tick checks cause his grandkids took baths and the tick would be drown then,,,guess NOT!!!

Guess his grandkids MIGHT not be as clean as he thinks there were,,,maybe. But I hope they have none attached!!still--just don--
Posted by meg (Member # 22) on :
Wow Tree--Good find!

So, I guess now the question is just about chlorine affecting ticks.
A Cautionary Note: Survival of Nymphs of Two Species of Ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) Among Clothes Laundered in an Automatic Washer

J. F. CarrollA, B

A. E-mail: [email protected], B. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705

Host-seeking ticks often remain on clothing of persons returning home from work or recreation in tick habitats, and can pose at least a temporary risk to people and pets in these homes. Laundering clothing has been one of the recommendations to reduce tick exposure. Host-seeking lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (L.), and blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis Say, nymphs confined in polyester mesh packets, were included with laundry in cold, warm, and hot wash cycles of an automatic clothes washer. Ticks were also placed with washed clothing and subjected to drying in an automatic clothes dryer set on high heat and on air only (unheated). Most nymphs (≥90%) of both species survived the cold and warm washes, and 95% of A. americanum nymphs survived the hot wash. At the time of their removal from the washer, I. scapularis nymphs were clearly affected by the hot wash, but 65% were considered alive 20-24 h later. Large percentages of nymphs of both species survived hot washes in which two other detergents (a powder containing a nonchlorine bleach and a liquid) were used. All ticks were killed by the 1 h cycle at high heat in the clothes dryer, but with unheated air some nymphs of both species survived the 1 h cycle in the dryer. Given the laundering recommendations of clothing manufacturers and variation in the use automatic clothes washers, laundry washed in automatic washers should not be considered free of living ticks.
Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
" All ticks were killed by the 1 h cycle at high heat in the clothes dryer, but with unheated (read cool down cycle)air some nymphs of both species survived the 1 h cycle in the dryer."

OMG-an entire hour at high heat!!! That means we will all be wearing too small, permanently wrinkled clothing as we pay our exhorbitant electric bills!!

Think this news calls for a float in the pool (with an extra boost of algaecide)!!

[Smile] Sue
Posted by Lymetoo (Member # 743) on :
Originally posted by just don:

I had a guy once who said it isnt necessary to do tick checks cause his grandkids took baths and the tick would be drown then,,,guess NOT!!!

Oh my!! [Eek!] Just think how many people may think the same thing! [Eek!]
Posted by Just Julie (Member # 1119) on :
Some time ago I remember reading someone posting that they used a mason jar filled with rubbing alcohol to put ticks into after they pulled them off of their pets.

I did just this, because I was too grossed out to be squishing the ticks I was taking off my cats. I noticed that it took at least 2 days before the ticks died in my jar of rubbing alcohol . . . so that goes with this research of 3 days.

For the curious with swimming pools, if you scoop up some of your pool water into a mason jar, find a tick (ewwwww) and put it into the mason jar, see how long it lives, then you know how long they survive after getting into your pool---either by dropping off from a nearby tree, or from the deer that brush against the foliage next to the pool.
Posted by Tincup (Member # 5829) on :
In my sicker and more evil days I did many tick experiments at the house.

Since I worked in a tick habitats.. I tried to find something.. anything.. that would work as a good repellent and/or a way to kill the ticks.

You name it, I tried it.

The ONLY thing I found effective in killing them.. short of a bomb or fire... was the shampoo used for killing head lice.

I've put clorox mixtures, lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, beer, lotions, etc... and all sorts of stuff on my head/hair to rinse out any ticks that might have hidden in my hair while I was working outdoors.

I needed a safe way... something that wouldn't kill me in the process... to know all ticks were off my body.. especially after going through nests of tiny nymphs.

Hint- NEVER put vinegar on your head after you've been scratching it. You WILL see stars!


I've put ticks in water... alcohol.. vinegar.. bleach... etc. They STILL live too long for MY satisfaction.

Sometimes I put them on index cards.. then dropped a few drops of fingernail polish on them-the clear kind- and let it harden. Then I would write the date and kind of tick on it and use it during programs so folks could see them.

After what I went through during my tick testing years.. my bet is swimming pool water won't kill them. Not right away anyhow.

[Big Grin]
Posted by susiecv (Member # 9702) on :
Well T.C., I'd have to say those experiments DO qualify you as a tick expert (of sorts). Thanks for sharing!

Too hot for pants & long sleeves, guess I will just have to let the weeds grow while the short pool season lasts!
[Smile] Sue

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