Generally speaking, most bugs go dormant in the winter season - great news for outdoor enthusiasts. (Give a cheer, mosquitoes are gone!) But, there is one disease-carrying bug that still remains a threat to gardeners, campers, hikers and walkers: the black-legged tick.
Although tick activity is high in the warm months beginning in spring, tick bites in winter are common. After all, ticks need blood to survive; and they will seek out humans, pets and livestock to remain active. Studies suggest that deer ticks hide underneath leaves and on firewood to stay insulated during the winter months. As long as temperatures are above freezing, tick bites and tick-borne illnesses threaten humans and animals.
"Diseases transmitted by ticks in North America include: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan virus, American boutonneuse fever, tularemia, Colorado tick fever, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, relapsing fever, and tick paralysis." (Thought Co. "Do Ticks Bite In Winter?")
This is why individuals need to take precautions to avoid tick bites. The methods from summer still apply in the winter season:
- Wear bright colored clothes to easily spot a tick;
- Perform a thorough tick-check after outdoor activity on both yourself and your pet. For pets, brush through hair and check behind the ears and on legs.
- Carry tick-remover tools to successfully remove a tick. Do not burn the skin or rip out the tick by hand.