When Does Tick Season Start? Consumer Reports

When Does Tick Season Start?

In many areas of the U.S., the answer is right now

Spring is just a few days away, and in many areas the snow has already melted and the weather is warming up. If you’re thinking of working in the yard or taking a hike, you might be wondering whether you need to worry about protecting yourself against ticks so early in the season.

The short answer? Yes, says Bruce Noden, Ph.D., a medical and veterinary entomologist and an assistant professor in the department of entomology and plant pathology at Oklahoma State University.

Whether you live in the Northeast or Midwest (where black-legged ticks, which transmit Lyme disease, are a prime concern) or farther south (where Lone Star ticks and American dog ticks might be more common), you need to start worrying about ticks in March and April, Noden says.

Here, what you need to know about your risk of encountering a tick right now.

What Happens to Ticks in Winter and Spring?

During the winter, the cold doesn’t kill off ticks en masse.

Some of the ticks we usually think of as most dangerous to humans in the U.S., including American dog ticks (which transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia) and Lone Star ticks (which transmit ehrlichiosis and other infections and can trigger a red-meat allergy in humans), enter a period of dormancy during the winter.

Others, including deer ticks (or black-legged ticks)—which transmit Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and several other infections—can become active and resume hunting for a blood meal even during the winter, whenever the temperature is above freezing and the ground isn’t covered in snow.

Throughout March and April, the longer periods of daylight signal that it’s time for dormant adult ticks to start feeding again. Warmer temperatures and thawing snow mean more adult deer ticks will be out and about as well.

In May, tick nymphs emerge, joining the adults to make it the tickiest month of the year, says Thomas Mather, Ph.D., who directs the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Vector-Borne Disease. May through August is generally peak season for catching Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patterns of tick behavior can also vary depending on where you live and which tick species live in your area. For instance, Gulf Coast ticks, which can be found along the Gulf and southern Atlantic coastlines and in Oklahoma and Arkansas, can become active as early as February. Pacific Coast ticks (found mainly in California and northern Mexico) are active throughout the winter. Your local health department can be a good source of information about the ticks most active in your area.

What does all this variability in tick behavior mean for you?

Although the risk of encountering a tick rises as the bugs become active, humans also increase their activity starting in the spring, making it more likely that they’ll put themselves in the path of a tick, says Justin Talley, Ph.D., a professor and an extension livestock entomologist in the department of entomology and plant pathology at Oklahoma State. You may have kept to the indoors during winter, but once you head out to run, hike, hunt, garden, and more, he says, “when your activity patterns pick up, be aware that you could find a tick on you.”

The bottom line: Tick season is now, and it’s time to protect yourself.

How to Protect Yourself Against Ticks

You should use some form of protection against ticks whenever you’re out in a wooded or grassy area where ticks could lurk. These are key strategies:

Use clothing treated with pesticide. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Permethrin-treated clothing is safe and can kill or disable ticks that come in contact with it. You can purchase pretreated clothing or you can buy permethrin spray and apply it to your clothes. You can even use it to spray your shoes and socks. Just be aware that it can’t be applied directly to your skin, so you should use insect repellent on any exposed skin.

Use an effective insect repellent. CR currently tests insect repellents against mosquitoes, but our experts say that data have shown that a repellent that works well against mosquitoes will also likely work well against ticks. Our tests show that repellents with 15 to 30 percent deet, 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus, or 20 percent picaridin tend to be most effective. Check the label of a repellent before you buy, though, because not all mosquito repellents are also labeled for protection against ticks. You can apply insect repellent to any exposed skin, as well as to the outside of your clothing.

Protect pets, too. Use an EPA-registered or FDA-approved anti-tick product on your pets, if they need them. Talk with your vet about which products are effective and safe.

Dress right. It’s best to wear long pants and long sleeves when you go into an area that’s likely a tick habitat. You should also tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks from getting under your clothing. Wearing light colors can also help you spot any ticks that may have hitched a ride.

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Check for ticks regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking a shower and checking your body for ticks within a couple hours of being in a tick-heavy area. Showering can wash away any ticks that may be on your skin but not yet attached, and it’s an opportunity to check your skin for any bites. Remember that nymphal black-legged ticks are tiny—no bigger than a poppy seed, says Mather. So you need to keep a sharp eye out for these little bugs.

Handle a tick bite right. If you find one of these pests attached to you, remove it with tweezers. And don’t panic, because getting bitten by a tick doesn’t guarantee you’ll contract an infection. The risk is actually low, even if the tick is carrying something potentially harmful.

You can save the tick for a few weeks, just in case, by taping it to a notecard and writing down the date you found it. That way, if you do get sick, your doctor can have it tested and use the result to help diagnose you. (Don’t handle a tick with your bare fingers, though—infectious pathogens can reach you from the tick even through small breaks in your skin.)

If you find a tick—attached or not—and are curious about what kind it is, several free services can help you identify the species from a photograph. Mather at the University of Rhode Island runs one of these services, called TickSpotters. The University of Wisconsin at Madison also runs the photograph-based Tick Identification Service for residents of Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Check out two of our top-rated insect repellents, which are also labeled for protection against ticks:

www.consumerreports.org

Tick Season Starts Early: Expert Q&A

Warm Weather Means Early Start for Tick Season; Expert Advice on Protecting Yourself and Your Pet

April 17, 2012 — The pleasant temperatures of this past winter may be giving way to unpleasant consequences, as the warmer weather has encouraged the early emergence of ticks. That means greater chances of contracting Lyme disease, particularly in the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and North-Central U.S., where it’s spread by Ixodes scapularis, often called deer tick or blacklegged tick. (Western blacklegged ticks, Ixodes pacificus, spread the disease in California and the Pacific Northwest.) Ticks can also transmit other diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

WebMD talked with Todd Barton, MD, an infectious diseases specialist and Lyme disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, about the possible uptick in health risks from these bloodsuckers and how you can protect yourself.

What does the warm weather mean for the tick threat?

«One would expect to see them earlier this year, but in theory there won’t be more ticks than usual,» Barton says. «However, given the warm weather, people will be outdoors more frequently and therefore more often exposed to ticks, and the number of opportunities for infection is more important than the number of ticks.»

How will I know if I have been bitten by a tick?

«Ticks have some sort of anesthetic in their spit, so you are not going to feel it when it bites you,» Barton says. «That means you have to check yourself thoroughly. They can be hard to spot. Nymphs, which are the size of a poppy seed, spread the most infection to humans because they are harder to spot and less picky about what they eat — they are teenagers, desperate and hungry — while larger adult ticks tend to favor smaller mammals.»

What should I do if I find a tick on me?

«First, it’s not a medical emergency, so you don’t need to dial 911,» Barton says. «In most cases, ticks take an hour or so to crawl somewhere dark and warm — the back of your knee, your groin, the crack of your butt — and start feeding. If it hasn’t settled in to feed, you can brush it off. If it is already feeding, it takes more than a day to pass along any infection it might be carrying.»

Continued

«To remove it, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and pull up with even pressure without twisting or jerking the tick. Don’t use your fingers — they are crude tools, and they can squish the tick, which can then squirt their guts, which is what carries infection, into you. If some of the tick pieces get left behind, that’s OK. You will do more harm than good to dig into your skin to look for leftovers. Your body will heal fine even if a little bit of the tick is left in you.»

«Don’t use Vaseline, matches, or alcohol — none of these things work or help.»

I’ve removed the tick that was feeding on me. What should I do now?

«The overall risk of getting Lyme disease from a feeding tick is 3.2%, so your chances of getting sick are pretty low,» Barton says. «But you won’t be able to tell from the tick if it is infected. If it has had a chance to feed on you, it’s important to check with your doctor. The bacteria is extremely hard to grow in a lab, so instead of looking for the germ, we look at the body’s response. If a red blotch that’s not accompanied by fever or itching develops in the area where you were bitten — usually after seven to 10 days — we treat with antibiotics.»

My dog likes to join me in the great outdoors. What should I do if I find a tick on her?

«Pets such as dogs are hard to check, but if there’s a tick on your dog, it won’t get hungry again soon once it has fed. It won’t be looking to hop onto you. Removal for pets is the same as for people,» Barton says.

What can be done to protect myself from ticks?

«You can best prevent exposure by not going outside, but that’s not a good idea — you should enjoy yourself,» Barton says. «And while tucking long pants into your socks can keep ticks off your legs, in hot areas that is not very comfortable. I recommend using a DEET-based insect repellent to spray a ring around your thighs. This creates a barrier that will keep ticks from crawling up into your groin or butt crack, areas that are hard to search for ticks and where we find as many as 50% of feeding ticks.»

Sources

Todd Barton, MD, infectious disease specialist, University of Pennsylvania, Pa.

www.webmd.com

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What does fact checked mean?

At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.

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The information contained on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional health care provider. Please check with the appropriate physician regarding health questions and concerns. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.

When Is Tick Season?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks are prevalent not only throughout the United States, but all over the world 1. Reducing exposure year-round, especially during peak season, can reduce the risk of contracting an infection from the blood-feeding parasites.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Peak Time

During their lifetime, ticks will go through four stages, from egg to adult. Each stage requires an increasingly larger blood host to ensure survival. Humans are at most risk during spring and summer months, typically April through September.

Prevention

Ticks can be found predominantly in wooded or brushy areas and in tall vegetation. To minimize tick exposure, wear protective clothing in a light color along with a chemical repellent. Also, tuck pant legs into socks, and stay near the center of walking trails. The National Institutes of Health says to perform a skin check after being outside in natural settings.

Warnings

Ticks can cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and a host of other illnesses. The most common symptoms of tick-borne illnesses are fever and chills, aches and pains, rashes and neurological reactions. Should a tick bite occur, remove the tick and disinfect the bite area. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks are prevalent not only throughout the United States, but all over the world. Reducing exposure year-round, especially during peak season, can reduce the risk of contracting an infection from the blood-feeding parasites. Should a tick bite occur, remove the tick and disinfect the bite area.

healthfully.com

When Is Flea Season?

The first thing to know about fleas is that they’re hardy little parasites and you don’t have to have a dog or cat to suffer from them. Active flea season depends on where you live; some places have to contend with them year round while others get to take a break during cold winter months. Fleas can survive in a dormant state under the right conditions in cold weather, meaning if they aren’t actively bothering you or your dog during the winter they may still be present, waiting for the right opportunity.

Flea Life Cycle

The flea has four parts to his life cycle, which starts when an adult flea lays eggs on a host animal:

  • Egg: When the host animal, such as your dog, moves around, he deposits flea eggs anywhere — the grass, in bedding, upholstery, carpeting, cracks in the floor.
  • Larva: Eggs hatch and develop where they landed, feeding on whatever organic material they find, such as skin scales and adult flea feces.
  • Pupa: After molting twice, the larvae grow and form a cocoon, hatching when the environmental conditions are right and a host is available.
  • Adult: Vibrations, heat and exhaled carbon dioxide signal it’s time to emerge from the cocoon so the adult emerges and jumps onto an available host to begin the cycle anew.

The life cycle can occur in two weeks or take much longer, depending on the environment.

Patient, Hardy Fleas

Fleas love temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level between 75 and 85 percent, however they’ll make do with what they’re given and are patient when they need to be. Pupae can remain dormant for up to 30 weeks and adults can emerge within two weeks or delay as long as 50 weeks. As well, they can overwinter if it doesn’t get too cold; the cat flea can survive 10 days at temperatures around 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit or for five days at 33.8 degrees. While freezing temperatures will kill exposed fleas, those that are tucked away in nests, your home or even on your pet in a dormant state in the cold of winter will wait until conditions are right to emerge. The bottom line: Fleas are a year round proposition, in one form or another.

Flea Control

Even if your dog or cat spends minimal or no time outside, you still should practice flea prevention because you can be a flea’s entry into your home and onto your pet. If home is in a warm weather climate, you should consider year round flea control; for cooler climates that experience freezing temperatures, initiate flea prevention in the spring, before the pupae emerge. Flea preventives vary widely according to what stage of development they address. Some kill adult fleas only while others leave the adults alone but prevent egg hatching to break the life cycle — effective only if the animal never comes in contact with another flea. Discuss the best option for your pet with your vet.

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Seasons in Russia

In a territorial scale Russia is the largest country in the world with a varied topography, climatic conditions, flora and fauna. On its territory there are diverse plains and mountain vegetation and lots of rivers and lakes.

A distinctive feature of the Russian nature is a variety of climatic conditions with a clear division of the season. With the onset of each season flora and fauna dramatically changes. The country is located in three eight time zones and in three climatic zones. Such location also affects the variety and diversity of nature.

Weather and Climate

Spring in Central Russia

Spring is the most wonderful season with transformations and changes in everything. This is a time of melting snow, flowing streams and blooming willow. International Women’s Day is celebrated in the first month of spring. Nature returns to life after long winter hibernation: woods put on gorgeous green outfits and fruit trees and shrubs are covered with pleasing to the eye blossoms and spread fragrance.

The middle of spring (between ending of April and beginning of May) is the time for major Christian celebration of Easter. May first is the date of national celebration of Labor Day. May 9 is the most sensitive and touching celebration of all. It is the day of Victory in the Great Patriotic War (WW II). On this day there are meeting with veterans, performances on squares in their honor and other sings of attention are. By this time numerous city flowerbeds are covered with blooming tulips.

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Climate of the Spring Months

March
Max average t°: 0 °C (32 °F)
Min average t°: -8 °C (18 °F)
Sundial in the day: 4 hours
Snowy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 35 mm (1.4″)
April
Max average t°: +10 °C (50 °F)
Min average t°: +1 °C (34 °F)
Sundial in the day: 5 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 37 mm (1.4″)
May
Max average t°: +19 °C (66 °F)
Min average t°: +8 °C (46 °F)
Sundial in the day: 8 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 53 mm (2.1″)

Spring Holidays

March 8: International Women’s Day

April 1st: April Fool’s Day
April 2nd: Day of Unity
April 12: Cosmonautics Day
April 26: Day in memory of the victims of radiation accidents and catastrophes

May 1st: Spring and Labour Day
May 9: Victory Day

Summer in Central Russia

Summer is the one of most pleasant seasons. This is the period of starting school holidays so many families are planning their vacations in nature, in the countryside, at sea or in the mountains. This time of year have pleasant warm weather. One can enjoy magnificent taste of variety of juicy berries through the whole summer. This is the time for ripening of vegetables and other agricultural greenery. Meanwhile wild animals keep growing their offspring which were born in the spring or beginning of summer.

By the end of the summer all leaves lose their bright colors and toke on dark green and brown tints. This is the time when grass turns yellow and ripened wheat, rye and barley crop are harvested. During the harvest forests are full of ripened mushrooms. Summer is the most suitable time for vacations by the sea. Comfortable temperature of water allows full enjoying all the marvels of this time of the year.

Climate of the Summer Months

June
Max average t°: +21 °C (70 °F)
Min average t°: +11 °C (52 °F)
Sundial in the day: 9 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 58 mm (2.3″)
July
Max average t°: +23 °C (74 °F)
Min average t°: +13 °C (55 °F)
Sundial in the day: 8 hours
Rainy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 88 mm (3.5″)
August
Max average t°: +22°C (72 °F)
Min average t°: +12 °C (54 °F)
Sundial in the day: 7 hours
Rainy days: 9 days
Precipitation: 70 mm (2.7″)

Summer Holidays

June 1st: International Children’s Day
June 6: Pushkin’s Day (Day of Russian language)
June 12: National Russia’s Day
June 22: Day of Memory and Grief (beginning of WW II)

July 8: Day of Family, Love and Fidelity
July 28: Day of the Baptism of Rus

August 22: State Flag Day of the Russian Federation
August 27: Day of Russian Cinema

Autumn in Central Russia

Autumn is beautiful season. This is the period when trees are covered with their golden outfits. Leaves change their colors to yellow, gold, red and fulvous. The incredible beauty of nature in this season fascinates with its varied and unusual colors. At that time, many birds, who arrived in the spring and raise their young, fly away to warmer climes to spend winter in comfortable conditions. By the end of autumn trees shed their leaves and prepare for the winter. Also people celebrate autumn harvest festival which means that all harvest is gathered and all preparations for the winter coming are finished.

First of September – the first day of autumn marks the beginning of school and is celebrated as the feast of knowledge. And the first Sunday of October is a Professional Teacher’s Day. Period between October and December is a time of many other professional holidays. At this time in the villages there are many weddings.

Climate of the Autumn Months

September
Max average t°: +16 °C (61 °F)
Min average t°: +7 °C (45 °F)
Sundial in the day: 5 hours
Rainy days: 8 days
Precipitation: 58 mm (2.3″)
October
Max average t°: +9 °C (48 °F)
Min average t°: +3 °C (37 °F)
Sundial in the day: 2 hours
Rainy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 45 mm (1.8″)
November
Max average t°: +2 °C (36 °F)
Min average t°: -3 °C (27 °F)
Sundial in the day: 1 hour
Snowy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 47 mm (1.8″)

Autumn Holidays

September 1: Day of Knowledge
September 3: Day of solidarity in the fight against terrorism
September 27: World Tourism Day

October 1st: Day of Older Persons
October 30: Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression

Last Sunday of November: Mother’s Day

Winter in Central Russia

Winter is a coldest season of the year. By this time all trees have lost their foliage and only conifers remain green. Snow cover is excellent protection against severe frosts. It envelops trees, fields and houses with charming white covering. Under a white blanket of snow everything looks majestic and graceful.

Thus time of year is known for having a biggest and joyful holiday, celebration of New Year. Its arrival is celebrated at midnight. In Russia one can celebrate New Year for eight times at once. This caused by location of the country in eight time zones. Therefore the celebration is kind of traveling from east to west of Russia during eight hours.

And January 7 is time for Christian Russians to celebrate Christmas, one of the most important religious holidays. This holiday have a national importance and is considered as a day off.

Climate of the Winter Months

December
Max average t°: -5 °C (23 °F)
Min average t°: -10 °C (14 °F)
Sundial in the day: 1 hour
Snowy days: 15 days
Precipitation: 54 mm (2.1″)
January
Max average t°: -9 °C (16 °F)
Min average t°: -16 °C (3 °F)
Sundial in the day: 1 hour
Snowy days: 12 days
Precipitation: 40 mm (1.6″)
February
Max average t°: -6 °C (21 °F)
Min average t°: -14 °C (7 °F)
Sundial in the day: 2 hours
Snowy days: 10 days
Precipitation: 38 mm (1.5″)

Winter Holidays

December 9: Heroes of the Fatherland Day
December 12: Constitution Day of the Russian Federation

January 1-6,8: New Year holidays
January 7: Christmas
January 25: Tatyana’s Day (a holiday for all students)

February 8: Day of Russian Science
February 23: Defender of the Fatherland Day

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