First It Was Mosquitoes, Now We Have to Worry About Ticks!
By Chris Williams on April 26, 2016.
You knew it was coming. Researchers here in the Northeast are now warning us to expect more ticks than usual this spring.
The University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center lists a high tick encounter index across the Eastern U.S. That means they found more ticks than normal (see Where do Ticks Go in the Winter?). We can thank the mild winter that allowed more ticks to survive, coupled with a warmer and wetter spring. Ticks prefer humid, wet weather rather than dry, sunny weather.
Expect More Hungry Ticks This Spring
“It normally takes a very long cold spell without any snow on the ground to knock back a tick population,” said Charles Lybelczyk, field biologist at Maine Medical Center Research Institute. That didn’t happen this past winter. According to AccuWeather meteorologist Edward Vallee, we can blame it on El Nino. Due to warm waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, temperatures in Eastern cities averaged 4 to 8 degrees above normal from December 1 to February 29.
What does that mean for you and your family? More surviving ticks this spring means more chances for attached ticks for your family and pets, and that may mean a greater likelihood of getting a tick-transmitted disease such as Lyme disease. Deer ticks (the vectors of Lyme disease) are already out in force in Maine, according to Lybelczyk (see Look Out! Ticks Are Already Active!).
Take Precautions in Tick Areas
The National Pest Management Association offers the following tips to help protect your family from tick bites:
- Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent that says it works against ticks. See Do Insect Repellents Work Against Ticks?
- When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation where ticks hide.
- To help keep ticks away from your property, keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles, and debris that can hide ticks. See Take Steps to Keep Ticks Out of Your Yard.
- After outdoor activity, take a shower and perform a tick check.
- If an attached tick is found, remove it with tweezers and a slow, steady pull. Wash hands and the bite site after. See The Right Way to Remove an Attached Tick.
- Learn about the symptoms of tick-transmitted diseases. Consult with your doctor immediately if you become ill after a tick bite.