Attack of the Zombie Ticks!
Winter’s fast approaching – but just because we’ve had a few hard frosts, you shouldn’t get complacent about ticks. They can be frozen rock solid – essentially dead– yet make an instant recovery when things start to thaw.
“They must produce some sort of antifreeze inside of themselves,” warns Dr. Thomas Mather of the University of Rhode Island, “because as soon as the ground thaws and they warm up again, they’re back out and biting.”
He’s not talking about the horrific zombies from AMC’s new hit series The Walking Dead, but instead the humble Ixodes scapularis– commonly known as the black-legged, or deer tick.
It’s assumed that this blood-sucking tick goes to ground during the winter months – but Dr. Mather’s research suggests over wise. During two days of collecting in November, the doctor managed to fill two entire test-tubes with the tiny ticks – proving that they’re as around as active as they ever were.
“Ticks can be just as dangerous in the fall and winter months,” he warns. “The ticks come out at the beginning of October, but their peak numbers are actually in November, after we typically experience the first winter frosts.”
Ticks, of course, carry Lyme disease – a dangerous bacterial infection and one of the fastest growing diseases in America.
“Lyme disease is especially common in ticks during the cooler months,” Mather explains. There are two reasons for this:
“Firstly, because there are more adult ticks around - ticks can survive throughout the entire winter, even if they are frozen in the ground for periods of time.”
“Secondly, they’ve had more opportunities to bite other infected animals during the summer and fall months – which means they’re more likely to be carrying the infection themselves.”
The fact that most people believe the winter months to be ‘safe’ actually puts them more at risk from tick bites than in summer, as many people stop using pesticides, wearing protective clothing or checking themselves for ticks when they come in from outside.
To keep you and your family safe from ticks year-round, it’s important to talk to a tick control specialist, like the tree and lawn care experts at Aspenn Environmental Services. They’ll be able to advice about spray tick treatments and offer a yard spray for ticks even in the winter months – ensuring that your lawn and landscape remains safe and tick-free no matter what the weather’s like outside.