Cold-weather ticks provide opportunities for education

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February 24, 2020

By

February 24, 2020


Tick. PHOTO: GOLDFINCH4EVER/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES

PHOTO: GOLDFINCH4EVER/ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS/GETTY IMAGES

As public awareness regarding tick-borne disease continues to rise, an increasing number of pest management firms are offering tick management services. Such services often include acaricide treatments and recommendations for reducing tick habitats or limiting exposure to infested areas. As such, pest management professionals (PMPs) are an important resource for educating the public about this pest.

Most tick questions come in the warmer months, when clients are more likely to be outdoors and ticks are most active. But don’t be surprised if a client calls with a concern about ticks in the colder months. When temperatures drop below 50°F, tick activity (like most arthropods) is severely reduced by the cool temperatures. But on the rare days that temperatures rise, ticks can become active and seek bloodmeals. These warm winter days also coincide with outdoor recreation activities by people.

The result is a higher potential for tick exposure, because clients are less likely to apply repellent or perform tick checks. Winter ticks often are brought home, and undetected ticks may drop off from their host following a bloodmeal, which is why engorged ticks may sometimes be found indoors in winter.

The only tick that survives and reproduces indoors is the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Other species will soon die indoors, even when hosts (pets and people) are accessible.

Explain to clients how overwintering ticks may become active on warm days. Recommend precautions such as using repellent and performing tick checks after spending time outdoors. Assuming that any tick found inside a structure is not a brown dog tick, clients can be reassured that an indoor treatment is unnecessary, as humidity levels and habitat are unacceptable for ticks.

PMPs can help clients understand why they might have encountered a tick. But remember, our expertise only extends so far. If your customers have any health-related concerns related to ticks, refer them to a physician.

About the Author

Dr. Jim Fredericks

You can reach Dr. Fredericks, VP of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), at jfredericks@pestworld.org.

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