One benefit of the weather getting colder is you don’t have to deal with many of the insects that bother you during the spring and summer months. Although insects like flies and mosquitoes hibernate during the colder months of the year, some insects don’t. This raises the question, can ticks survive cold weather? Unfortunately, the answer is yes! Ticks can survive harsh winter conditions, including ice and snow.
So, where do ticks go in winter, and how are they able to stay alive during the coldest months of the year? here are some of the ways ticks survive the cold:
- Most ticks burrow beneath leaves and other insulating organic matter during the coldest months of the year.
- Deep snow also helps insulate dormant ticks from freezing temperatures.
- When ticks enter diapause (like a hibernation state), they decrease their cellular freezing point by reducing water in their bodies, creating a natural antifreeze called a cryoprotectant.
- Depending on the species and life cycle stage, some ticks can also survive a harsh winter by latching onto a host animal that provides warmth and a constant food supply. (See “winter ticks” information below.)
Although resilient, these creatures are not invincible. Here are some important things you should know about ticks in winter.
Do Ticks Die in the Winter?
If the temperature falls below 10 degrees Fahrenheit and stays there for several days, about 1/5 of the tick population in the area will likely die off, even if buried deep in the soil layer. However, female ticks are particularly sturdy and capable of surviving such cold temperatures until spring, when they lay their eggs.
Intense temperature fluctuations during the winter months can cause some ticks to perish. A warm period can fool ticks into thinking it’s time to come out and play “vampire.” If the warm weather is followed by a sudden cold snap that freezes the ground quickly, the tick can’t burrow back underground for warmth. Left out in the cold, the tick will perish.
Related Topic: What Temperature Kills Mosquitoes?
Which Type of Ticks Are More Active in the Winter?
Only some species of ticks are active in winter. These include black-legged ticks, aka deer ticks, and their cousins, the western black-legged ticks. Both species can carry Lyme disease (and other pathogens) and are active in cold weather. These ticks like to search for a host when the first frost hits, but go dormant when the temperature consistently falls below freezing.
The winter tick is active (not surprisingly) throughout the year because it spends its entire life on a warm-blooded host—a very unusual trait (even for a tick).
Other common ticks, like dog ticks and lone star ticks, seek shelter in leaf litter during the winter and go dormant (in diapause) during the colder winter months. If they’re lucky, a thick layer of snow can provide additional insulation, further protecting their bodies from the cold. These ticks emerge again in spring when the daytime temperature reaches about 45 degrees.
What If You Have Warm Winters?
Just because the weather is cold you can’t let your guard down when it comes to ticks. They are a resourceful, hardy insect that has learned how to adapt to a variety of weather conditions.
And if you live in a warmer climate where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, you have to be on guard throughout the year. In these areas, ticks are active in and around your home all year. But there is a way to deal with even the hardiest ticks, call Mosquito Joe. The pest control pros at Mosquito Joe® can provide year-round protection to keep you, your family, and your pets safe from all kinds of insects. Call 1-855-275-2563 and ask about our tick control services or visit us online.