Tick bulletin for September

By Samantha Murray

Hey, Where Have All The Ticks Gone?

TickSmart Tips for Staying Ahead of the Next Wave

“I SAW LOTS OF TICKS IN APRIL, MAY AND JUNE BUT NOW I HAVEN’T SEEN ONE IN A MONTH.” It’s a pretty common statement when talk turns towards ticks and tick bites at this time of year.

So, where did all the ticks go?

  • Some found hosts, grabbed a blood meal, and are now either growing into their next feeding stage or are laying eggs. Either way, they’re no longer host-seeking, and so, there are not as many left to get on you or your pet.
  • Some dehydrated. Ticks lose body water every day that atmospheric moisture is below a certain threshold. If they don’t, or can’t, recharge, they’re toast! In particular, this summer’s hot, dry conditions have been great for beach-goers but not great for ticks.
  • They got older! April, May, and June are the “tick-iest” months across America but ticks just get “worn out” physiologically as they go out to “work” everyday—looking or waiting for a host to pass by, only to have to crawl “home” to more moist leaf-litter or shade to re-hydrate—day after day after day. For example, after about 25 host-seeking cycles, American dog tick adults start to become more susceptible to losing body water; and of course the days in late June and July typically become drier, too. So, see #2 above…
  • With decreasing day lengths after the June 21 summer solstice, some types of ticks are cued to start going into an activity diapause. They may still be out there alive but they’re not active, saving their energy reserves to overwinter and come back next springtime. ChartTick

You see, it sucks being a tick. From a high-point in May, September tick encounters drop to one of the lowest levels all year. But September is not the time to celebrate or go rolling around naked in the woods and tall grass. Ticks, specifically the adult stage of blacklegged (deer) ticks and western blacklegged ticks make their return by the end of September throughout their range, and especially in the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-Western United States. We’ll remind you again about this next month but for now, keep up with your TickSmart prevention actions, including:

Treat your shoes and socks with permethrin tick repellent. Larvae are still active in September and can crawl right through your socks to bite.

Start tucking your shirt in. When the adult ticks do return, they latch on about knee-high and can quickly crawl right under an untucked shirt.

If you have a pet, keep on treating them with effective, quick tick-knockdown pet meds. They’ll likely be the first to encounter the return of adult ticks when it happens.

AND IT WILL HAPPEN!

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