TickSmart bulletin for January
Can’t believe TICKS might still be active in winter? Well, Believe!
Blacklegged (deer) tick adults are not killed by freezing temperatures. Even in the coldest regions of North America, these ticks can still be active on days when temperatures are above freezing. But here’s the deal; it’s most likely to happen if the ground is thawed and the temperature is above freezing. Deer ticks sitting for a time on a block of ice (or frozen ground) just can’t muster the energy to move their muscles. Warm them up, even just a little, and watch out…they’re good to go. And they will, too.
Loaded with pathogens, especially in the Northeast and Upper Mid-West, adult stage female deer ticks can give you Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and possibly relapsing fever borreliosis or a deer tick virus. Always do a quick Tick check daily, especially from your waistline and up – front and back. In one study, 63% of adult ticks were found attached on the head, neck and upper torso. While their preferred host may be white-tailed deer, they’ll latch onto people and pets as well.
To avoid an unexpected tick bite while working or recreating outdoors in winter, check the ground to see if it’s frozen and check the temperature to see if it’s above freezing. By the way, we found ticks in the brush just behind these workers, in winter. So, don’t forget about being TickSmart, even in winter.
Top winter TickSmart actions:
- Wear tick repellent clothing treated with permethrin, especially your pants.
- Tuck in your shirt
- Perform tick checks, looking for adult ticks, after outdoor work.
- Throw clothes in a hot dryer for 5-10 minutes *before* washing to kill any lingering ticks that may be attached to work clothing.