Ticks can be nuisances, and due to the diseases they carry, then can be real threats to human health. How weather effects tick populations? Even though they are most active during the late spring, summer, and early fall—ticks are reproducing, finding hosts, and acting like pests in general all throughout the year.
As “tick expert” Dr. Thomas Mather says, “Tick season is pretty much every season.”
Climate can greatly effect tick population, and some years are much worse for ticks than others. For example, ticks thrive in humidity and a wet year can both boost tick populations and increase the number of places they reside in. A warm winter can add weeks of activity for the animals that ticks feed on, which causes them to spread, becoming an increasing threat to our heath.
Warm winter days can make ticks a year-round problem. Some of the more prevalent ticks in Oklahoma are the western black-legged tick, brown dog tick, American dog tick, and the rocky mountain tick. Forecasters predicted that this year’s tick population would be larger than usual. This year’s spring and summer temperatures were expected to be close to regional averages but more precipitation was anticipated, causing tick populations to be above average.
When preparing for the 2020 tick season, it’s important to remember ticks are active on those warm winter days. Weather affects the tick population because the of the role it plays in a tick’s reproductive cycle, so it’s essential to keep the forecast in mind. A female tick is only able to lay eggs in a wet, warm environment and once the egg hatches the new tick will need to feed off a host to move through every stage of its development. A humid environment is essential for ticks to reproduce and wet weather can cause female ticks to lay more eggs than usual.\
Weather later becomes more of a factor largely because of the effect it has on tick hosts such as mice, deer, dogs, cats, and other animals. If the mouse population increases, tick larvae and nymphs will have an easier time finding hosts. This makes it easier for tick larvae to move onto the next stage of development. Summer and fall months that are warmer than usual will also make the hosts more active and increase the likelihood that ticks will be carried into areas that humans are in, making it easier for them to latch onto you. Be prepared for how weather effects tick populations!