The 2024 Tick Season

2024 tick season

The 2024 tick season is here – and it’s expected to be a bad one. Tick populations across the country are expected to be equal to or larger than last year. If you hate ticks, there is no good news to report. “It’s very bad and has only been getting worse,” said Susanna Visser of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Lone Star tick is now spreading across the northeast, the Asian long horned tick is continuing to expand its territory across the entire country, and the United States experienced another very mild winter. Mild winters can contribute to a worse tick season in very concrete ways:

  1. Survival Rates: Ticks are more likely to survive milder winters. During harsh winters, many ticks die off due to the cold temperatures. However, in milder winters, more ticks can survive, leading to a larger population the following season.
  2. Earlier Activity: Mild winters can prompt ticks to become active earlier in the year. Typically, ticks become active when temperatures consistently reach above freezing. If winter temperatures are mild, ticks may start questing for hosts earlier in the spring, potentially increasing their exposure to humans and animals.
  3. Extended Activity Period: Along with earlier activity, ticks may remain active for longer periods during mild winters. Instead of going into a dormant state due to prolonged cold, they may continue to quest for hosts, extending their activity season and increasing the likelihood of encounters with humans and animals.
  4. Host Availability: Milder winters can also affect the availability of hosts for ticks. Wildlife, such as deer and rodents, may have better survival rates during mild winters, providing more hosts for ticks to feed on and potentially increasing tick populations.
  5. Increased Habitat Range: Mild winters can also enable ticks to expand their habitat range. In areas where cold temperatures would typically limit tick populations, milder winters may allow ticks to survive and establish themselves in new regions where they were previously uncommon.

Overall, while mild winters may seem more comfortable for humans, they can unfortunately create conditions conducive to a larger and more active tick population, leading to a potentially worse tick season with increased risks of tick-borne diseases. The summer of 2024 is expected to be such a season. Use extreme caution while spending time outdoors, especially in tick prone areas. Always wear a tick repellent specifically designed for ticks and stay safe out there!