One of the most disgusting insects crawling around on this green earth is the tick. It has become the regular enemy of deer, domesticated animals and even humans over a long period of time. Cases of Lyme disease and other tick born illness continue to be on the rise and there seems to be no end in sight, especially this year.

We have a black lab and it makes finding them even harder. You never know where they'll be. Each time we've let her out in the backyard, it appears an unwanted visitor comes back inside with her.

Now, we do have the perfect storm when it comes to a tick population. We live near a wooded area with big tall trees in our backyard. That's a tick breeding ground.

Won't The Cold Kill Them?

Here in Central New York, there have been several cold mornings already this fall season and even some frost covered mornings, yet there is still a strong presence of the little critters. WHY? Isn't the cold known to kill them, stop them in their tiny tracks?

That is what many believe, but the truth is the tick is resilient. Like many other small nuisance pests it takes a lot to drive them away or get rid of them completely.

Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash
Photo by Erik Karits on Unsplash

According to the pest control company Terminix, ticks can survive quite easily during the winter months and their hibernation spot is quite creepy. Terminix states:

Ticks survive the winter in a variety of ways, but do not go away just because it is cold. Depending on the species – and stage in their life cycle – ticks survive the winter months by going dormant or latching onto a host.

Latching to a host? You mean burrowing during winter in the side of a deer or your family dog? Yuck!

In fact, if temperatures remain at 45 degrees or above, ticks can become active again, said Terminix.

Blacklegged ticks, which carry Lyme disease, remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing. The adults look for food right around the first frost. Additionally, the winter tick, which hatches in late summer as temperatures begin to decrease, is active during cooler months. This tick is typically found on moose, and sometimes deer, in the Northeastern part of the country.

Ticks Just Trying to Survive

Whatever the type of tick, it's important to know that they are like any other creature trying to survive in the wild. The goal is to eat, live and create other little tick heads. Like many other undesirable insects and little things nobody wants, they reproduce like rabbits, but worse.

Terminix states, "Those that cannot find a host will likely die. Females will remain on a host until the end of winter or start of spring. Then they drop into the leaf litter, where they will lay up to 3,000 eggs before dying."

Now that's a crazy thought.


Taking Steps to Protect Yourself

According to the New York State DEC, you need to protect yourself. There are several ways to do it because Lyme disease can be detrimental to your health.

The DEC says you need to do the following in potentially tick infested areas,

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots, and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent on your clothing. *
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Keep long hair tied back.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.
  • Follow your vet's suggestion for regular flea and tick prevention treatment.

It's essential to do these things to protect yourself from all the symptoms of Lyme disease; including fever, headache, fatigue and nasty rashes. You also need to monitor your pets for the little pests.

Be prepared and stay vigilant. It's going to be a long winter.

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