Many of us, especially pet owners and parents, breathe a sigh of relief when winter rolls around, knowing we don’t have to deal with the constant worry of checking for ticks after a stroll outside. However, that is not necessarily the case. Certain species of ticks, including the western blacklegged (deer) tick, Ixodes pacificus, stay active even when the temperatures drop. Driven by higher moisture levels, western blacklegged ticks were found to be most abundant in the winter months in southern Oregon and Northern California.
On the East coast, ticks are typically most active in the fall as they frantically search for a host before the cold. However, the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, stays active as long as temperatures are above freezing and if there is no snow covering the ground. Even then, they usually do not die off unless there are a significant amount of consecutive days below 10 degrees.
Popular areas for these ticks to hide in the winter include under leaf litter, in garden debris, under bark in thick shrubbery, or even under snow. Be sure to continue to check yourselves, your pets, and your kids all year, particularly around the neck and ears where skin is thinner.
Since ticks can be found essentially anywhere outdoors, it is important to check yourself, your pet, and your family for ticks when you come inside. First, you will want to inspect your clothing and remove any that you find. If you want to play it safe, immediately wash all clothing in hot water and then tumble dry in high heat to kill any ticks that may be hiding.
Once clothes are checked, you need to check your skin. While a tick can be found anywhere, you will want to pay close attention to your armpits, ears, belly button, back of knees, around your waist, and all around your hair, including your neck and ears.
If you do notice a tick, remove it immediately. If it has already attached to your skin, get your tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as you can get and pull it out. Once it is removed, pay close attention to any symptoms that could signify a tick-borne illness, such as a fever or rash.
If you don’t want to have to worry about checking for ticks every time you go in your own backyard, then contact our tick control company in Connecticut today. We will treat your property to effectively kill off any ticks that may already be there, and we will make sure they don’t come back.
Source: “Does Winter Fend Off Ticks?” by Sandra Kraft and Larry Pinto, PCT Magazine December 2017