Last summer, Beka Setzer's daughter Emmalee came in, after some playtime outdoors, covered in tiny black dots. Setzer at first thought they were just seeds since Emmalee had been rolling around on the ground outside, but when she tried to wipe them off she discovered that they were actually ticks — all 150 of them.
Setzer posted photos and videos of the ticks and the bites they left on her daughter on her personal Facebook page last year, to warn other parents. The incident apparently stayed with Setzer, though, who shared the photos again this year and submitted them to the Love What Matters Facebook page to further spread information about "seed ticks."
"She must've been playing in or near a nest of tick larvae and was covered," Setzer wrote in the original post. "I spent nearly an hour and a half picking over 150 minuscule baby ticks off of her, gave her a long Dawn dish soap bath with repeated washing, washed all bedding, clothing, and toys she came into contact with afterward and administered Benadryl. This morning she woke up with a low-grade fever, these spots on her and a hard, large marble sized swollen lymph node."
The ticks that bit her daughter were not carrying Lyme disease or any other tick-borne illnesses. However, other kids might not be so lucky — which is why Setzer feels the need to let parents know they should be on the lookout for these tiny ticks in addition to the full-grown variety.
"They're not as easy to see as the ticks you're likely looking for on yourself or children," she wrote. "Pictures and videos below (look very carefully) - research 'seed ticks' (ticks in the larvae stage of life) for more information. These were NOT chiggers."
Seed ticks are precisely what Setzer thought: the larva stage of a tick. Ticks have four stages of development, according to Orkin: Egg, larval, nymphal, and adult. Seed ticks, the second stage, "resemble poppy seeds with six legs," according to Orkin. They also immediately seek out a "meal" as soon as they hatch.
Even though they are small, seed ticks need to be removed in the same way as adult ticks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to remove a tick is to:
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
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