Ticks living longer with shorter winters

Deer ticks are living longer due to shorter and milder winters and could lead to more infections of Lyme Disease in humans and animals. (Alain Jaquet/flickr)

Cora Bern-Klug | August 17, 2016

With fall on the horizon, outdoor lovers and pet owners may think the threat of ticks and fleas is over. Unfortunately with global temperatures rising so do the pest’s population.

The Deer Tick, a tiny arachnid that latches onto anything it is able to suck blood out of, is able to survive freezing temperatures. When temperatures lower Deer Ticks have been found to hide underneath fallen leaves. As warmer temperatures return they climb back to knee-high brush where they can attach to dogs, cats, humans and other animals.

These ticks can transmit Lyme Disease. This disease is known as “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms can be frequently misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis or chronic fatigue syndrome. If untreated, Lyme Disease can affect any organ of the body including the heart and nervous system.  This makes Lyme Disease and the ticks that pass it along dangerous and unwanted for the host. Only a deep freeze or snow can kill off the disease ridden pest.

In late January NASA reported that 2015 was the warmest year since they have been keeping record beginning in the late 1800’s. 2015 had an average surface temperature of 58.62°F topping the 20th century’s average by 1.62°F.  “Today’s announcement not only underscores how critical NASA’s Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice – now is the time to act on climate.” said Charles Bolden the NASA Administrator.

Rising temperatures in Iowa and around the world will affect everything from water levels and severe weather to the amount of fleas and ticks among the grass and weeds. As winters get shorter and warm weather stretches grow longer ticks have more time to find a host and pass along Lyme Disease.

One thought on “Ticks living longer with shorter winters

  1. Check for them often if you’ve been in the grasses or weeds. Lyme is nasty stuff. Our daughter had a late diagnosis and is still suffering negative effects after long regimes of antibiotics, etc. This disease needs a lot more attention from the medical community. It is a worsening problem.

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