Ticks live all over the world in all climate zones except the arctic. The times when ticks are active depend on the geographic occurrence of the tick. Ticks can only be active when the weather is warm enough and a certain temperature has been reached as they cannot generate their own body temperature.
When the ambient temperature is too low for ticks to be active they fall into a kind of dormant state, a stasis in which they slow down their metabolism and wait for the next warm period until the temperatures are high enough and they can become active again.
When Are Ticks Most Active?
In general, ticks become active when the temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius).
In Noth America, northern Europe, and northern Asia, where there are seasons, ticks are usually only active in the frost-free months.
In the tropical and subtropical climate zones, where the temperatures are usually always higher than 45 Fahrenheit, ticks are active all year round.
When the temperature is high enough and the weather is warm and humid, ticks feel most comfortable. Then the small parasites crawl up on, blades of grass, flowers, or low branches, stretch their front legs (where their olfactory organs are), in the air, and lie in wait for a suitable host animal.
When is tick season?
- In the northern hemisphere, the height of tick season is from the months of April to October
- In the southern hemisphere, where the seasons are opposed to the northern seasons, the height of tick season is from October through April
|Ticks are most active during the warm month when temperatures and humidity are favorable for these nasty parasites. However, this does not mean that ticks are not active during the cooler seasons and that the risk of tick bites is negligible.|
Whenever temperatures briefly rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, ticks can become active again and go in search of a victim.
Tick protection is important all year round, but during the height of tick seasons, which are the warm months of the year, even more so.
Warm and humid is best for ticks, so the maximum tick activity is during the height of summer when the temperature is perfect for them.
But they don’t like it too hot and dry either, because apart from biting a host and drinking blood they have no other way to get liquid, they cannot drink water. If ticks have to wait too long in high heat and low humidity, they dry out and die.
This is of particular interest to garden owners. Keeping your yard and garden tidy, clearing low shady shrubs, and letting the sun in will reduce the risk of ticks in your yard.
When are ticks most active during the day?
The time when ticks are active during the day also depends on the temperatures. When it is warm, humid, and shady, they lie in wait all day long. But long, hot, dry summer days can also make life difficult for ticks. As mentioned above, when it is too hot and dry during the day while they wait for a host, they lose vital fluids.
On extremely hot, dry days they crawl under leaves and litter on the ground where they wait until it cools down a bit in the evening hours and then become active in the cool of the evening and at night.
When is tick season over?
There is no real end to the tick season. However, they become less active as the weather cools, so the risk of tick bites is somewhat reduced during the cold month of the year.
In autumn, when temperatures drop so that average day/night temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, peak tick season could be said to have ended. In such cool conditions, they fall into a state of dormancy and no longer actively crawl around.
Where Are Ticks In Winter?
Ticks retreat and spend the winter season on the ground under piles of leaves or other debris, or in cracks and crevices. Cold does not harm ticks and they do not die in freezing temperatures.
Like many insects and spiders that don’t die at the end of summer, they can overwinter and resist low temperatures without freezing. Their body produces an enzyme that protects them from frost, by preventing water crystals from forming and breaking cell structures. This built-in freeze protection allows them to survive temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder than that, they are in trouble.
Let’s Recap when are ticks active?
Many environmental factors influence when ticks are active.
First, there is a minimum temperature that the spider-like parasites need to ramp up their metabolism and become active. Ticks become active when temperatures averages are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius).
Next, there is changing climate, the winters are getting shorter and the summers longer, which of course is an ideal condition for ticks as they can be active longer.
Then there is also the disappearance of natural predators due to such climate and environmental changes, tick eaters are becoming fewer.
No matter what angle you’re looking at, personal tick protection is becoming increasingly important throughout the year. The same applies to our pets, dogs and cats also need protection against ticks too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we can get the tick problem under control anytime soon as the environment is changing and the conditions for ticks are getting better and better.
References and More to read:
Possible Effects of Climate Change on Ixodid Ticks: