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Are Ticks Still Active in the Winter?

tick on skin

Many of us think that ticks die off in the winter after the first hard frost. Unfortunately, they do not. The adult black-legged (deer) ticks that spread Lyme disease begin their prime feeding activity just about the time of the first freeze. The reason being is that their main host animals are deer and deer are actively moving around in the fall. If deer aren't around, blacklegged ticks will attach to people or pets anytime the weather starts getting warmer.

The American dog tick and Lone Star ticks are inactive in fall and winter. The Blacklegged ticks activity decreases only when temperatures start dropping below 35 degrees F. or the ground is covered in snow. They quickly recover when temperatures start warming up. To actually kill ticks, the freezing temperatures must be a sustained number of days below 10 degrees F. This is happening less often as our winters are getting warmer than they use to be. Any ticks that have attached to a deer will be kept warm by the animal's body heat and will survive a cold snap.

What this translates to is that you can't let your guard down when it comes to ticks and the possibility of tick-transmitted diseases. In the Northeast, the risk of Lyme disease is lowest from late December to sometime in late March. It is not so much as the weather as it is in the life cycle of the Blacklegged tick. The nymphal stage of the tick is responsible for most of the transmitted cases of Lyme disease, but by late fall the nymphs have molted into adult ticks to spend the winter.

People who own pets are often less concerned about ticks in the fall and winter, but they are still out there. Pets should be treated year-round for ticks. Check with your veterinarian to see what they recommend.

Effectively preventing tick-borne disease involves several different factors. Here are important steps to reduce the chances that a tick will transmit diseases to your pet.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about having your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease. This annual vaccine can help prevent transmission of the bacteria that carries Lyme disease.
  • Use a topical tick prevention product, like Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix, all year long. Vaccines are not available for other tick-borne diseases, such as Anaplasmosis, which can be just as dangerous and crippling as Lyme disease. Vaccines do not keep your pets from bringing in ticks into your home. It is very important to use tick preventative products on your pets.
  • Check your pets for ticks on a daily basis, especially after they have been outside. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it immediately. One tick can transmit disease within 24 to 48 hours after it has attached itself to your pet.

If you believe that your home or business is experiencing pest control issues including ticks, mice & bed bugs, please contact an F&W Pest Control professional today for a free inspection and quote.

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