Many animals find themselves host to ticks. Pets, rodents, deer and other wildlife are perfect candidates for a tick to take a snack. Unfortunately, ticks are also very prone to carrying diseases that they can spread through their bite. Many people wonder where ticks go in winter? Ticks can survive winter in a variety of ways. Some go dormant, while some are actually most active in winter months. And others may latch on to a host and hold out until warmer days are back.
Take, for instance, the deer tick. The adult form of this tick doesn’t become active until after the first frost. For them, winter is their most active time. While other ticks stop feeding during the winter months, the deer tick will feed any day that there is not snow on the ground. This also happens to be the tick that carries the dreaded lyme disease. But, in most cases, if you remove the tick within the first 24 hours, your chances of infection are slim. This is because the germs need an re activation period to get into the ticks saliva glands once it feeds.
DOES WINTER EFFECT THEIR LIFE CYCLE?
The black legged tick has a two year life span in most cases. in spring time, eggs hatch releasing blood sucking larvae. When it gets cold, the larvae dig into soil and molt, emerging the following year as adults. They mate, lay eggs and die in the second year. The lone star tick, on the other hand only lives one year. They overwinter in nymph and adult stages to lay eggs the following spring.
But with the onset of warmer weather, a two year tick can fast track its life cycle into one year. A warm day comes, and the tick emerges, gets a blood meal, and moves through the next phase earlier than most. This means that a cold winter won’t kill off ticks, even if the temperature rises and dips again. A particularly harsh winter may slow them, but cold doesn’t kill them off.
THEN WHAT DOES EFFECT THEIR LIFE CYCLE?
If warm weather doesn’t effect ticks, what does? For a tick, their reproduction strategy is fairly simple. When one of these pests needs to move from one stage of life to another, they need a large amount of energy. This is common in all insects, but especially in blood feeding pests. In order to do this, ticks feed on blood. This gives them a large dose of energy with which they can move to the next stage of life. Whether it is molting old skin, laying eggs, or becoming an adult, they will need a blood meal to do this.
That means that the predominate factor in the speed of their life cycle is their ability to get their next blood meal. Many larger animals that would be a host for these ticks are dormant during the winter. This means that finding a host may be difficult this time of year. Some ticks specialize in animals that are active during this time, such as the deer tick. Others find a host before they hibernate. Hibernating animals aren’t going to be bothered by a small tick biting them. Some ticks, such as the winter tick, only feed off of one host. They find a host in the fall as a larvae, then continue their life cycle the entire winter, feeding off of one host.