Have you been wondering (or hoping) that the recent chill in the air sweeping the nation will freeze the palps off of the ticks that have plagued us and our beloved pets this summer and fall? It’d be nice, right? Wishful thinking… We reached out to tick expert, Dr. Thomas Mather, to find out more about just how hardy ticks are and if they can actually survive in the cooler weather months. Here is his unfortunate response.
“Some species, like American dog tick and Lone Star tick are just not active in fall and winter months. Others, like Blacklegged (deer) tick can remain active in their adult stage from fall to spring as long as the temperature is above freezing,” explains Dr Mather, Director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease and TickEncounter Resource Center
Dr Mather and his team have conducted extensive tests to determine if dreaded ticks actually die in the cold weather.
Indoor testing: Recently, TickEncounter put some adult female deer ticks in their own polar vortex (aka, the freezer), and ticks were killed in 24 hours. The temperature was -2°F. Being attacked by fewer ticks come springtime would be some kind of payback for the extreme heating bills of this winter. However, outside in nature, the ticks borough under leaves, snow and other debris to stay warm. Also over evolutionary time, ticks have experienced their share of frigid polar vortex conditions…and somehow survived them.
So, bottom line, even in the the winter months it is important to continue tick prevention strategies. Here are some winter tips for tick safety courtesy of our friends at TickEncounter: Tick Safety Tips
Additional Winter Protection for Yourself, Families and Pets
Remember, insect repellent clothing - especially pants, socks, and permethrin spray for your boots - are a great first line of defense against ticks. And don't forget to tuck in your shirt!