NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — If you’re enjoying the warmer-than-usual winter, so are ticks. The insects do not have to go into their usual hibernation on days when the temperature exceeds 40 degrees. It used to be the people who study ticks in Connecticut got pretty bored in the winter months. Not anymore.
“We used to call it tick activity season,” explained Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a tick expert with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “We can no longer call it tick activity season as ticks are active year-round.”
When people get bit, they send their ticks to the Agricultural Experiment Station. It used to be they would get about 50 all winter long. Now they are getting around 800.
“We receive ticks on a daily basis, and some days we receive over ten tick specimens from the public,” Molaei said.
It is all because Connecticut winters are not as long or cold as they used to be. That also means ticks that like warmer weather can now survive in Connecticut, like the Gulf Coast, Lone star, and Asian Longhorn ticks.
“We are seeing higher numbers of ticks. We are seeing higher numbers of ticks that are infected with disease agents,” said Dr. Molaei.
Experts are still studying how the new breeds spread those diseases to humans, but the diseases they have go far beyond Lyme disease.
“We are seeing a rather complex activity of ticks throughout our state and in the region, and also, we are seeing up to 20 tickborne diseases simultaneously circulating in our state,” Dr. Molaei said.
So, if Jack Frost is not nipping at you this winter, it can mean that ticks are. Maybe the only good thing about ticks in the winter is that you’re already wearing long sleeves and long pants, all the things we tell you to wear to prevent tick bites in the summer.