It’s a common thought that ticks are no longer an issue once the first frost hits. While they are certainly not as common, there are a few instances where you may still encounter deer ticks during the winter (yes, even in New England). Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
For many deer ticks, they feed in the fall and then go dormant in time for the colder weather. They then lay their eggs in the spring, and the cycle starts all over again. However, what happens when a female is unable to feed before the winter? In this instance, she won’t go completely dormant. Instead, she’ll wait for a winter day that hits at least 35°F with no snow on the ground, and then venture out to feed on either a human or an animal. So the string of 40°+ days that New England has seen recently would allow these deer ticks to become active.
For the Northeast and any other areas that regularly see temperatures above 35°F, it is important to continue to take normal precautions if you’re spending time outside. This includes when doing wintertime yard work, going on a hike, or even just walking through your neighborhood. Longer pants and sleeves become the norm during the winter, so this will help as a first barrier. Do a quick tick repellant spray before venturing outside, and then check your clothing as soon as you get home.
And one of the most important precautions: your pets. Make sure you continue to check all pets after they’ve spent time outside. Since ticks tend to take shelter in leaf litter in your yard, keeping pets in a designated area and preventing them from roaming will help cut down on your tick risk.