As you all know, this winter is turning out to be a cold one. The current nationwide cold spell will help reduce tick populations. The air is also relatively dry, which will only make tick-survival less likely. Ticks have been abundant during the past several years as a result of mild winters. Last year’s relatively mild winter season allowed for large tick populations to overwinter. This overwintering made the spring and summer of 2017 a total tick fest. The increase in tick-borne illnesses during 2017 cleary resulted from the long bouts of mild winter weather in 2016 and 2017. But will this current cold spell make a difference in tick populations come spring? Just how tough are ticks? Experts are claiming that the cold weather is good news for people living in regions that are highly populated with ticks. But it may be too soon to determine if a decrease in tick populations will be substantial enough to reduce the amount of tick-borne illnesses during the 2018 year.
According to Justin Talley, an entomologist with Oklahoma State University, the recent cold weather has had a more substantial effect on tick reduction than human tick control efforts. Talley claims that there is no doubt that the recent drop in temperatures will kill off numerous ticks, but that does not mean that there won’t be the usual abundance of ticks come springtime. Due to the last few mild winters, there are now too many ticks in the wild that may survive. Even if plenty of ticks die-off, ticks could remain a public health issue in 2018. Talley has emphasized that ticks will be just as problematic in 2018 as they have been during previous years if this current cold spell is the only cold spell that occurs this winter. If this current cold spell ends, and this coming spring proves to be warm and moist, then ticks will most certainly remain a problem. Ticks have a convenient method of surviving cold winters since ticks embed themselves in animal fur. This sort of environment may provide enough insulation and body heat to ensure tick survival. Only time will tell if the climate will help reduce tick populations. However, Talley did mention that the lack of snow on the ground this year will make it more difficult for ticks to survive.
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