Ticks…in Winter??

After contracting Lyme Disease last summer, and then finding another attached deer tick a month after recovering (and after hearing that Sandy’s daughter is dealing with a tick-borne illness), I’ve become pretty paranoid about ticks. I was wondering whether there’s any risk of tick bites in the winter and googled it. I found this article, which might be of interest to our members.
Stay well! – Dave Forrer

Are Ticks a Threat in Winter?

Article in the Washington Post Jan. 13, 2020. From Consumer Reports:

“With winter upon us, you might have decided to store your insect repellent in the back of the closet until spring. Well, you might want to dig it back out, because some species of ticks can be active during winter. In general, the species of ticks that transmit diseases to humans in the United States tend to become inactive during the winter. The combination of cold weather and shorter days triggers a kind of hibernation, known as diapause, says Ellen Stromdahl, a retired entomologist from the tick-borne disease laboratory of the U.S. Army Public Health Center at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

There are two important exceptions to this rule, however: the black-legged tick (also known as a deer tick) and its cousin that lives on the West Coast, the western black-legged tick. These are the two ticks that transmit Lyme disease in the United States, and they ‘are likely to be active when we get a little warm-up spell in the winter,’ Stromdahl says. The reason is that some of the adult black-legged ticks may not have found a meal before the end of the fall. Because the female adults need to feed to lay eggs in the spring, those that haven’t found a meal don’t go fully dormant during the winter. Instead, they can become active whenever the temperature rises above freezing (to about 35 degrees) and when there’s no snow on the ground, says James Burtis, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., who has studied the wintertime biology of black-legged ticks. And black-legged ticks may carry not only Lyme disease but also a ‘whole laundry list’ of other pathogens, Stromdahl says, including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and the deadly Powassan virus.”

From Dave Forrer