Like any good New England–born adult, I have a healthy fear of ticks. But since I have a dog and love gardening, hiking, and generally lying around in the grass, I have also been bitten enough times to have a favorite tick-remover tool. At first it was a tick key — a bottle-opener-like doodad you can attach to your keychain. But for the past two summers, I have solely relied on a small, crowbar-shaped device called the Tick Tornado for all my tick-removal needs.
Though the Lyme-carrying pests are becoming more of a year-round problem because of warmer winters and growing populations of deer, mice, and other tick-carrying creatures, my personal tick anxiety ramps up every spring, when I start to spend more time outside and their eggs begin to hatch. ’Tis the season to make sure you’re prepared to deal with any ticks that might try to hook themselves into you or a loved one or pet. For this, the Tick Tornado is an essential tool.
I should know: I’m not easily grossed out and am known for remaining calm in stressful situations, so I am the designated tick handler in my family and friend group. I have pulled ticks off countless dogs, more than a few children, and even a co-worker or two. Back when I worked as a style writer at GQ, I once came to my boss’s rescue by pulling a tick off her back in one of the Condé Nast bathrooms. After using both a tick key and the Tick Tornado in various situations, I can confidently say the Tick Tornado does a much better job — and not just on humans; it’s much easier to use on squirmy toy poodles too.
Designed like an actual crowbar but many times smaller, the Tick Tornado uses leverage to gently but firmly remove ticks without squishing them. Where a tick key has to be slid against the skin and under the tick, the Tick Tornado allows me to get in and get out without my dog, Uli, feeling the approach of the tool. This means she stays mostly still so I can concentrate on the task at hand.
If removed correctly, a tick will survive being pulled out of its victim, which means you don’t want to drop them or let them loose in your home. The Tick Tornado helps prevent this. It has cupped, spoonlike edges on the toothed end that keep tiny, newly removed ticks from falling on the floor and crawling away. It also has grippy treads that help you get a firm hold on the handle and a hole on the back end, in case you want to wear it on a necklace, attach it to your keychain, or tie it to your hiking pack. When you buy one, you actually get two versions of the same tool: Each package contains one smaller Tick Tornado and one larger one for prying off ticks the size of poppy seeds all the way up to fully engorged adult ticks.
My trusty Tick Tornado has never failed, never squished a tick, and, most crucially, never left the tick’s head in my skin (you always want to remove the whole tick to prevent it from regurgitating toxic germs into your body). With such an efficient and reliable tool in tow, I feel safe doing my favorite outdoor activities even at the height of tick season in coastal Connecticut, just nine and a half miles from Lyme, the town where Lyme disease was first discovered. In fact, writing this makes me want to buy a bunch of Tick Tornados for friends and family, especially as I’m planning a backyard wedding in July. Maybe I’ll hand them out as favors.
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