Ask a Local Master Gardener: Colder weather still means ticks

  • A deer tick on human skin. TNS

For the Gazette
Published: 11/1/2019 3:00:19 AM

Q: I saw your leaf article last week and am wondering if ticks are still around in the leaves? Will 32 degrees kill them? —D.T., Florence

A: Thanks for reading, D.T. Glad you are thinking proactively about those little buggers. Cold weather is coming, but that does not mean they are gone. This is the season when many adult ticks are on the prowl. According to a recent announcement by UMass Amherst’s Department of Medical Zoology, we are in midst of the second tick season which started mid-October. This is when adult deer ticks emerged. They will remain active through November and/or until snow falls.

Cold temperatures around 32 degrees may slow them down or encourage them to go dormant, but do not kill ticks. There are many different kinds of ticks, each with their own lifecycle timing. So, remain vigilant.

Thankfully there are numerous resources both locally and regionally to help educate the public about these tenacious arachnids. Here are a few suggestions:

Tick removal: Instructions on how to remove a tick and related information is available on a number of websites including UMass Amherst’s Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at ag.umass.edu and the Center for Disease Control at cdc.gov/ticks.

Tick removal from dogs: Given the prevalence of ticks on our furry friends, the American Kennel Club has suggestions about the removal of ticks from our canine companions at akc.org .

Tick identification: For help identifying a tick and a wide variety of other helpful tick-related information, check out University of Rhode Island’s URI Tick Encounter at tickencounter.org.

Tick testing: Want to have a tick tested? UMass Amherst’s Laboratory of Medical Zoology offers a helpful tick analysis service called The Tick Report. Check out their website at tickreport.com. They also have a mobile app for this service in the AppStore and via Google Play. Check out the website for details.

I wear tall rain boots with pants tucked inside when working around leaf piles and yard debris this time of year as they have a slippery exterior and are higher than most vegetation I am clearing. Ticks typically catch a ride down low on something grippy when we unknowingly rub up against their outstretched forearms and they then climb up high. Keeping pant legs tucked in helps prevent them from going to unwanted places. Wearing light-colored clothing also helps make it easier to see their telltale dark-colored bodies.

Daily tick checks on both you and your pets are always a good idea.

Good question, D.T. Thanks for asking a (local) Master Gardener.

Have a gardening dilemma? Please send questions, along with your name/initials and community, to the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association at AskAMasterGardener@wmmga.org. One question will be answered per week. wmmga.org


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