You may think a harsh winter means fewer ticks in the summer. Since ticks are small, they don’t look very hardy. They can’t control their temperature, so a very cold winter as we had last season means fewer ticks, right? Although the “harsh winter theory” seems logical and based on facts, it’s actually not correct.
Ticks survive winters living around warm animals in their dens. The small animals provide the heat necessary for ticks to survive. Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, that transmit Lyme Disease seek out the dens of white-footed mice. These dens are where ticks and their eggs can survive winter temperatures. Nymph (baby) ticks become active as temperatures warm in May.
So, the question is, why don’t we see many ticks in the early spring and mid-summer if nymph ticks are active then? We don’t see them because of their size. If you spend much time in brushy or grassy areas around small woodlots or suburban landscapes, you can be sure you’re in contact with ticks. When a tick reaches the nymph stage, they can be infected with Lyme Disease but are no bigger than a poppy-seed. Finding a poppy-seed in grass or even in our socks is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Nymph ticks are most active May through August. Their activity is at its peak right now. However, because of their size they easily hide unseen under our clothes and in our hair. Because of their small size, they are not often found on their hosts until they are engorged after taking in their blood meal from you. By the time a nymph tick is engorged with blood, the disease they are carrying has usually been transmitted to their host.
Reducing the number of nymph ticks on your property is an excellent way to reduce your exposure to Lyme Disease. Fewer nymph ticks this summer means fewer adult ticks next year. Ticks live their lives close to where they are born. They don’t walk or crawl with any speed and dry out quickly if
exposed to heat for long periods. They move mainly by hitching rides on small animals like mice, squirrels, chipmunks, muskrats, raccoons, coyotes and dogs. Adult ticks try to attach to larger animals like deer because they need a much larger blood meal to lay their 2,000 to 18,000 eggs. Adult ticks are most active in spring and fall.
Mosquito Squad of Leominster offers both a barrier spray and tick tube program to eliminate adult and nymph ticks on your property. Our barrier spray will eliminate active ticks from spring to fall. Our tick tube program uses treated nesting material that white-footed mice like using in their den. The nesting material is treated to eliminate ticks but doesn’t harm the mice. The tick tubes effectively eliminate nymph ticks as they spend the winter in the mice’s den. Combining the barrier spray and tick tube program, you will see fewer ticks in your yard during the summer and it will have nothing to do with the weather.