Right now you will see large numbers of adult deer ticks that have completed the life cycle and want a blood meal to reproduce. Down in the leaf litter are deer tick larva. These are the very small young ticks that are looking for a blood meal before winter. Ticks need the moisture provided by the rains in eastern Massachusetts over the last several weeks that are held in place by the leaf litter from early leaf drops.
The tick life cycle goes from egg to nymph to adult. Once eggs hatch there can be batches of more than 1500 tiny larva. These larvae are disease-free. Ticks are not born with the disease. Ticks pick up diseased blood from infected hosts. The larva feeds on small infected animals, like mice, where they pick up Lyme disease. After they feed, the ticks will molt over the winter. In the spring the tick will emerge as a nymphal tick. This infected nymph will feed on larger animals and transmit the disease. The disease stays in the tick during each stage of its life cycle. Adult ticks emerged around mid-October this year and are out in mass. The UMASS tick center can check if the tick you found is diseased. Don’t depend on temperature to defend you. Avoid tick habitat, wear repellent, and inspect for ticks if you suspect you may ticks.
We service for ticks by spraying tick habitat. Reduce the tick habitat on your property by mowing, removing leaf debris and removing brush. When you venture out to tick habitat wear appropriate clothing and repellent. Tuck your socks into your pant legs to keep ticks from crawling unnoticed inside your pants.