Are ticks still alive in the winter? Even though fall is coming to an end and temperatures have cooled dramatically, this does not mean that the infamous parasites have disappeared completely. Ticks can carry debilitating diseases such as Lyme, so you may have several questions about their whereabouts during the winter season.

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

In the past, it was much more likely for ticks to go dormant in the freezing weather. While they don’t necessarily die, it was much less likely for you and your family to be susceptible to tick bites because freezing weather inhibits their activity. However, climate change is having a catastrophic effect on the temperatures in several areas, including in New England.

With the average temperatures slowly rising in the wintertime, there will be more time for many tick species to reproduce and less time for them to become inactive. This, in turn, is increasing the number of Lyme infections seen annually on the East Coast. This is why it is more important than ever to protect yourself and your family when spending time outside.

If you and your children work or play outdoors in the winter, be sure to bundle up with long layers of clothing to prevent tick bites. If you have long hair, tie it up before going into hazardous areas such as the woods. It is also essential to do a thorough tick check while coming inside. Ticks are attracted to warm areas on the body, so scan behind the legs, under the arms, and through the hair to ensure that no parasites have made their way onto you.

Oftentimes, ticks can travel near your home through other means of habitation. Deer mice are common winter pests because they seek warm shelter out from the cold. While they may typically live in nests under bushes near your home, in the colder months they may also search for warmth inside sheds and barns. Deer mice are extremely small rodents that can squeeze into narrow holes the size of a dime and carry parasites with them. As a common host of various tick species, it is essential to prevent deer mice from also occupying your yard.

In order to prevent ticks from inhabiting your yard through deer mice, be sure to trim down your bushes when they are overgrown. Keeping your lawn mowed will also prevent the habitation of deer mice and the travel of ticks. Overgrowth in your yard creates a welcoming environment for rodents and other unwanted pests, but keeping your home tidy is the first step to preventing the habitation of ticks. Deer mice also search for warm, inconspicuous areas to live and breed such as sheds and barns. By patching up any holes and fortifying the main entrance well, your property and family will be protected from both rodents and ticks.

Measures of prevention are the most assured way to avoid tick bites in the winter. However, there is still a chance that you may attract one. If you get bit by a tick, there is no need to panic! The most important action to take is to remove it as soon as possible with tweezers because Lyme can only be transmitted if the tick is attached for 36 hours. Then, simply wash the bite and patiently wait to see if a rash forms. If so, call a medical professional who can further assist you in preventing Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Want to prevent your family from coming into contact with disease-carrying ticks? MissionGreen offers an All-Natural Mosquito and Tick Control program to provide a protective barrier around your home and landscape for season-long control. Email or call (413) 998-7829 for a free estimate today.