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How Weather Impacts Tick Populations In South Portland

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How Weather Impacts Tick Populations In South Portland

If you've found yourself saying, "What's with all the ticks?" this year, there is a good chance the weather has something to do with it. There is a close correlation between ticks and weather. Some of the correlations may actually surprise you. Here are some of the questions we get regarding ticks and weather conditions. We think you'll find them quite eye-opening.

Does cold kill ticks?

Yes. Ticks can freeze to death. If we have a cold winter where temperatures stay cold long enough, tick populations will be lower the next year. The converse is also true. If we have a mild winter, we can expect to see more ticks in the spring. But it is important to point out that a cold winter doesn't kill all ticks. Some species, like the deer tick, which is primarily responsible for the spread of Lyme disease, can tolerate colder temperatures. It also matters what stage a tick is in its life cycle. Ticks that have a host animal will benefit from the heat of that animal. Ticks that have not yet acquired a host must hide under leaf litter and other organic debris, and this makes them more susceptible to freezing.

Does snow kill ticks?

Nope. Snow is an insulator for ticks that are hiding under leaf litter. When we get a ton of snow, ticks have a higher chance of survival. The ideal conditions are extended freezing temperatures and late snow accumulation.

Does drought kill ticks? 

Yes. Ticks need moisture. If they don't get enough moisture they will not live past the larval stage of their development. That is good news for us. When baby ticks don't grow up to be full grown adults, everybody wins--well, except maybe the ticks.

Severe drought can affect ticks in another way as well. If a drought is severe enough to reduce mouse populations, this will affect tick populations. Studies have shown a direct correlation between cases of Lyme disease and summer mouse populations. A single mouse can carry upwards of 100 deer ticks in their fur. The death of a single mouse has a significant impact.  

Does heavy rain kill ticks?

No. Have you ever tried to drown a tick. It is an exercise in futility. So, heavy rainfall is not a problem for ticks. They can survive heavy rainfall in all stages of their development. Less rain means fewer ticks.

Does heavy rain help ticks?

Yes. Rain is beneficial for ticks. When they get lots of moisture or humidity, they thrive. If we have a lot of rainfall, we can expect tick populations to increase, and Lyme disease cases to increase as well. Lots of melting snow will also cause tick populations to increase.

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Does warm weather affect ticks?

Warm weather affects all cold-blooded creatures. Unlike warm-blooded creatures, that are able to regulate their temperatures, cold-blooded creatures are the temperature of the air, soil, or water around them. When the temperature drops too low for their comfort, they slow down and conserve their energy. When the temperatures go up, they become more active. While extreme heat will kill ticks, a consistent 70-90 degrees will cause an increase in breeding, and an increase in population. 

When high heat is combined with dry weather these can work together to kill ticks. If you suspect that there are ticks in your yard, you may consider spraying a mosquito repellent with Permethrin from your knees down and go out and cut your grass short when the weather is dry and hot. This is sure to get rid of some ticks in your yard.

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