Have you asked yourself this very question? Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are a real problem here in Massachusetts, with incidences only second to Pennsylvania according to CDC tables. However, you may also find sorting through the information about tick-borne illness fairly confusing. By knowing and understanding the tick life cycle and its stages you can be more proactive in protecting yourself from Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Let us lay this cycle out for you.
The Deer Tick Lifecycle
An adult female deer tick will lay somewhere between 1500 to 3000 eggs beginning in late May. When these larvae ticks hatch towards the end of July, they will begin looking for their first blood meal. Each larvae tick requires this blood meal, usually found in a small rodent or bird, to move on to the next stage of life. These young ticks will molt over winter and reappear in spring entering the nymph stage of the tick life cycle.
Again, the nymph tick will seek out its blood meal so that it can become an adult. This takes place between May and July. By fall the nymph tick will molt into an adult. Adult females will seek a last blood meal needed to produce eggs. After which, the female, engorged with eggs, will find a safe, leafy and hidden spot to rest until spring. Then she will lay her eggs, and the process starts again.
Photo Credit: Mainely Ticks
How Does This Affect My Risk for Disease
When a larval tick hatches in late summer, it is free from disease. After a blood meal from an infected host, the larvae will molt into an infected nymph deer tick. Most cases of Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses occur somewhere between the beginning of May through July, when the nymph ticks are most active. A nymph tick is about the size of a poppy seed. Taking into account this small size along with the large number of them, this part of the life cycle is when the deer tick can be most harmful if it is infected. They are hard to see and you might not even know they are on you before you become a blood meal. While being very aware during these summer months, keep in mind that ticks can live in very low temperatures if the ground is not frozen. You can be bitten and contract Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, or Anaplasmosis at any time of year.
Tick Tube Prevention Systems
At Mosquito Squad of Worcester, our tick tube system is the most effective way to control the growth of the nymph tick population. We begin by placing these tubes, made of cardboard and cotton specially treated with a chemical to eliminate ticks, strategically throughout your yard. Mice will take this cotton and use it as nesting materials and when the larvae ticks enter these nests to have their first blood meals they will not exit, will not become infected nymphs, will not have to chance to infect humans. Thousands upon thousands of deer ticks can be stopped with these tick tubes before making their way into our community. And it goes without saying, with fewer ticks there is less chance for disease.
The best way to prevent Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses is to prevent exposure. Mosquito Squad of Worcester can eliminate 85-90% of ticks in your yard with our barrier treatment and tick tube system. Give us a call and let us create the plan that best works for you and your family. Don’t let fear of disease keep you from enjoying your own backyard!