You might occasionally hear about “tick season,” a period of time when tick activity tends to be at its highest. Nationwide, tick season typically spans from March through October. State-to-state, it may vary. For many people, the off-season may provide a sense of false security.
Ticks thrive in wet, warm weather, but can they survive in the cold? Let’s explore tick activity during the off-season and look at ways you can protect yourself and the people and pets you care about.
Are Ticks Still Active in the Fall?
Truth be told, ticks can be active year-round. Throughout most of Catseye Pest Control’s service areas, tick activity remains relatively high through October, although it can extend until December. In fact, many species produce two periods of pronounced peak activity levels. The first is usually in March or April, while the second is October and November.
During autumn months, the weather typically cools off a bit. Cooler nights change tick activity, leading these tiny pests to hide under debris until the warmth of the sun encourages them to come out.
Tick activity continues during fall, and it can also be even more dangerous if people let their guard down and take fewer precautions against tick bites. Remember, in any season, ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and more.
North American Tick Species
More than 800 species of ticks can be found worldwide. More than 90 species of ticks can be found throughout the United States. However, different states and regions are more favorable for certain tick species. Across North America and throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, four species account for the majority of tick activity.
These ticks are commonly found in wooded areas, but they can easily spread to other locations. Deer ticks primarily feed on white-tailed deer, although they may also feed on squirrels, mice, and other mammals. Deer ticks can carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis.
Lone Star Ticks
Lone star ticks, named for the single white spot on their backs, were once only found in the Southern U.S. However, the Lone Star tick has now spread along the entire East Coast. It may feed on humans, birds, dogs, cattle, and other animals. Some of the serious health risks posed by these ticks include STARI, ehrlichiosis, and a relatively new condition called Alpha-gal allergy. This condition is marked by an allergy to meats that contain alpha galactose, including pork and beef.
Brown Dog Ticks
One of the unique qualities of the brown dog tick is its ability to live its life entirely indoors. This means it can thrive quite well in areas with colder climates, even during the frigid fall and winter months. Although it may bite people and other animals, the brown dog tick primarily feeds on dogs. It may transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis.
American Dog Ticks
Also known as a wood tick, the American dog tick primarily feeds on dogs, although it also bites humans. These ticks are commonly found along the edges of roadways and trails. They have larger bodies that can grow to 1/2 inch after feeding. American dog ticks may transmit serious diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which can be fatal if left untreated. They may also carry tularemia, which can paralyze and kill both dogs and humans.
Can Ticks Survive the Winter?
Can ticks survive the cold winter months? Many ticks become less active in winter, and research conducted in laboratory freezers shows that ticks die in temperatures below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in nature, these blood-thirsty pests could find shelter to avoid cold temperatures. Common winter hiding spots include burrowing into the soil, under leaves and debris, and even under the snow. They also have physiological adaptations that help them withstand periods of cold weather.
Some ticks, including the lone star and American dog ticks, become very inactive or dormant during winter, typically when temperatures reach or fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Others, including deer ticks, remain active in above-freezing temperatures. Additionally, dormant ticks can become active on warm, sunny winter days.
Tips to Make Your Property Less Appealing to Ticks Year-Round
Maintaining a tidy property can go a long way to minimizing the risk of ticks. These pests often shelter in tall grass, making it essential to mow frequently throughout the growing season. Other actions you can take to make your home less appealing during peak tick seasons and during times of low tick activity include:
- Eliminate hiding spots and shelter: Ticks love debris piles, wooded areas, and tall grass. Perform a thorough fall cleanup to remove fallen leaves and get rid of junk.
- Create a barrier: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends creating a 3-foot barrier between your lawn and wooded areas. Using strategic landscaping and adding rocks or wood chips can accomplish this effectively and helps reduce the risk of ticks migrating from the woods onto your property.
- Deter deer and other animals: Ticks commonly travel on deer and rodents. Keeping nuisance wildlife and rodents away from your home and property can help reduce your risk.
Professional Tick Control Services in Your Area
Although you can take certain actions to make your home and property less enticing for ticks to find shelter, the single most effective way to control the situation is with professional help. Tick control services provide treatment and prevention for peace of mind when ticks are active as well as when they are dormant.
With Catseye Pest Control’s organic tick and mosquito program, technicians visit the property monthly from May through October. We use an all-natural, environmentally friendly approach to eliminate ticks. From the initial, detailed inspection to administering monthly organic treatments that provide a barrier against ticks to offering preventive tips, we’ve got you covered.
Contact Catseye to Learn More
Many people keep their guard up during warm weather months and worry less about ticks once the temperature drops. Achieve peace of mind and feel like you’re in control in any season with professional services. Our technicians have the training and expertise needed to keep your property, pets, and loved ones safe. Contact us for more tick control information or to schedule a free inspection.