Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ticks in Winter

Bangor Daily News   Outdoors  December 9, 2014

On the cusp of spring, temperatures are still dipping below zero and snow covers the state of Maine. This long, drawn-out winter is taking its toll on many Maine residents — in the form of Vitamin D deficiencies, cabin fever and seasonal depression — but it doesn’t affect everyone.
The recent below-average temperatures aren’t likely to make a dent in the local tick population, according Maine tick experts.
“I hope I’m wrong,” said Clay Kirby, insect diagnostician with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “But I can’t foresee much of a decrease [in the tick population] just because we’ve had so much snow cover, which acts as insulation.”
“The bottom line is — this winter isn’t going to kill the ticks,” said Susan Elias, research associate at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute Vector-borne Disease Laboratory. “They’ll be out as soon as it warms up.” 
By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff

Here are some other articles and websites on this subject:


Life-cycle of Ixodes scapularis (a.k.a. blacklegged or deer tick)

"Life-cycle of Ixodes scapularis(a.k.a. blacklegged or deer tick) in the northeast/mid-Atlantic/upper mid-western United States. Larval deer ticks are active in August and September but these ticks are pathogen-free. Ticks become infected with pathogens when larvae (or nymphs) take a blood meal from infectious animal hosts. Engorged larvae molt over winter and emerge in May as poppy-seed sized nymphal deer ticks. Please note that most cases of Lyme disease are transmitted from May through July, when nymphal-stage ticks are active. Adult-stage deer ticks become active in October and remain active throughout the winter whenever the ground is not frozen. Blood-engorged females survive the winter in the forest leaf litter and begin laying their 1,500 or more eggs around Memorial Day (late May). These eggs hatch in July, and the life-cycle starts again when larvae become active in August"

 Deer Tick Life Cycle


Your Family's Safety

Life cycle of the Deer Tick

 Deer ticks need blood to survive. In a typical two year cycle, the tick must have three blood meals. The life cycle begins in the spring of year one. In southern Maine, adults lay thousands of eggs on the ground around the end of May, which hatch into six-legged larvae around the first or second week of August. The larvae are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is at this stage that the ticks receive their first blood meal, usually from mice, chipmunks, and birds. This is a point that larvae may become infected with the Lyme disease bacteria. After feeding for several days, the ticks become fully engorged and drop off the host, usually into leaf litter. They will remain dormant until the spring of year two when the larvae molt into eight-legged nymphs, which are about the size of a poppy seed. In the State of Maine, the months of May, June, and July are peak periods for nymphs seeking their second blood meal. While most feed on mice and chipmunks, it is the time of year when pets and humans start spending more time outdoors, and become unsuspecting hosts. Nymphs are very difficult to detect and easily overlooked. After feeding for four or five days, the nymphs will drop off the host and eventually molt into eight-legged adults. In late summer and through the fall, the adult ticks find their way onto large mammals, usually deer, where they mate. This is a time when humans and pets are again susceptible to picking up ticks. While still a threat, the adult ticks are larger than the nymphs and therefore easier to see. The females will attach and feed for up to a week, and then drop off and lay up to 3.000 eggs which will hatch in the spring. The two year cycle begins again.


  The three sources show the Ticks can live year around and that means we need to take year around precautions for ourselves and our pets.  For Humans we can spray our clothes especially socks and shoes and jackets with permethrin which can be found at Walmart for 10$ in the tent section.  Also even in winter it can't hurt to still put on essential oil blends on the skin for an additional barrier.  Click on the Prevention Tab on our site and I linked several resources.  

Some ticks may come off onto the christmas tree from pets so even spraying your tree skirt with permethrin can help kill ticks.  

When it comes to pets make sure your dogs and cats have up to date and working flea and tick control.  Check them before they come into the house.  And you can spray your furniture on the bottom surface area to kill any ticks your pets may brush up onto the couch with Permethrin.  Just let it fully dry before any animal especially cats come into contact with it.  There are also lots of essential oil blends that are safe for cats and dogs but talk with an expert before applying and read all directions before using.  

I am an advocate not an expert so here is Mainely Ticks info. for additional questions.  http://www.mainelyticks.com/ and http://www.tickinfo.com/ both are my go to resources for Tick Prevent and information on Permethrin, essential oils, DEET, and etc.  

If you have further questions or concerns please look under our Contact Us info. at the top right of this page.