The life cycle of ticks is a bit of a confusing subject and affects the risk for Lyme Disease in humans greatly. Understanding the life cycle of the deer tick is very helpful in remembering when to be most vigilant in your tick control and Lyme Disease prevention measures.
The Deer-tick’s 2-year life cycle
Adult female deer ticks begin laying their eggs in mid to late May. They usually lay 1,500 to 3,000 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in late July or early August making the deer tick larvae most active in August. In August and September, the larval tick will take their first blood meal from a host, usually a small rodent or bird.
The larvae molt over the winter/early spring and by May they have entered the nymph (teenage) phase of life. Nymph ticks remain active from May – July seeking out their second blood meal so that they can become an adult tick. By fall nymph ticks molt into adults. Engorged adult female deer ticks will survive the winter in leafy underbrush and emerge in the spring to lay their eggs and start the cycle all over again. See Mainly Ticks life cycle timeline below for a better visual understanding.
How the tick Life-Cycle effects Lyme Disease Risk
In August and September, larval ticks are generally free of Lyme Disease infection as they are recently hatched and have yet to be infected. Once they take a blood meal from an infected host, they will molt during the winter and emerge in spring as infected nymph deer ticks, about the size of a poppy seed. Nymph deer ticks are most active from May through July, which is, not coincidentally when most cases of Lyme Disease occur. The nymph deer tick is so small, and there are so many of them, it is hard to notice when they get on you. This makes infected nymph deer ticks the most dangerous in transmitting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.
Tick Tube Treatment
At Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC, we offer tick tube treatment that is essential to eliminating ticks before they have a chance to become the dangerously infected nymph ticks that are active from May through July. Made of cardboard and cotton treated with a tick-killing chemical, the tubes are placed in strategic locations where mice are likely to travel and collect nesting materials around your home and yard. The rodents take pieces of the material to build their nests where the larval ticks have their first blood meal. This eliminates the larval ticks before they can molt into nymphs and infect humans. Tick tubes are a key ingredient in lowering everyone’s risk for Lyme Disease. With up to 3,000 eggs per female tick hatching each spring, eliminating ticks in the first stage of their life cycle is a great way to exponentially lower the deer tick populations in Montgomery County.
Preventing your exposure to ticks is your best weapon in preventing Lyme Disease. At Mosquito Squad of West Montgomery, we can eliminate 85-90% of ticks in your yard with our traditional barrier spray and tick tube treatment. Contact Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC to learn more about protecting yourself and your family from the risks of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease in your backyard!