When is tick season in MA?
Massachusetts has no single tick season because tick activity and tick-borne illnesses can occur year-round in
the state. However, most tick-borne disease do occur in the summer months: June, July, and August — and
there are two peak seasons you should watch out for.
While not every tick might be a disease vector, these pests are a health threat, especially to children and dogs.
That’s why it’s so important to know when the peaks are for tick season and what you can do to control these
pests and prevent tick bites.
In this article, we’ll guide you through these seasons, why ticks are more active during such conditions, and
how to keep them at bay with professional help.
When Is Tick Season in Massachusetts?
While tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan
virus occur year-round in the state, the height of tick activity occurs when the temperatures are warmer.
There are two main seasons during the year:
If average temperatures continue to climb due to climate change, there is some concern that the peaks will last for longer in the future, increasing Lyme disease rates.
In fact, studies show that climate change contributes to the expanded range of ticks, making it more possible for ticks to thrive in areas that used to have colder average temperatures, such as Canada and the northeastern U.S.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the number of reported Lyme disease cases has doubled over the past quarter of a century.
It went from 3.74 reported cases per 100,000 people to 7.21 reported cases in 2018.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services warns that the tick season peaks could
start earlier due to the impact of warming temperatures. This will likely lead to more exposure to Lyme and
disease-causing bacteria, which is why Massachusetts residents need to stay on top of tick control.
Why Are Ticks More Active in Warmer Weather?
Several species of ticks frequent the Boston region and the general Massachusetts area:
While someone could get a bite at any time of year, all these species prefer warm, humid weather. Deer ticks, for example, are more active when temperatures are above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive when humidity levels are above 85%.
That’s why they’re more common in states that experience high humidity levels in the summer and fall, like Massachusetts.
Image: Map illustration by the Yale School of Public Health, February 2012, depicting areas where people are most susceptible to Lyme disease.
When the air is moist, ticks have more water vapor to extract from their surroundings and stay hydrated.
Ticks don’t “drink” water as we understand it. They need to get enough water from the air to survive. For
example, in arid conditions, when the humidity level drops below 80%, ticks die.
That’s why they tend to be inactive in the winter months in Massachusetts. The colder weather doesn’t just
curb their mobility — it also dehydrates them.
However, not all ticks die in the winter. Ticks are adept at burrowing done in the leaf litter to keep moist. They
will emerge and quest for a host anytime the temperature is above 32 degrees. Hiking or doing yard work in
the winter can result in ticks attaching to you or your pets.
This is because ticks learn to adapt to the changing seasons by finding shelter in suitable indoor or outdoor
places. Spots under dead leaves and vegetation, well-heated homes, and warm and moist indoor gardens
perfectly fulfill their needs.
In some cases, ticks might even attach themselves to a host and feed throughout the winter to survive the cold,
The Importance of Staying Safe During the Tick Season in MA
Tick-borne diseases, especially Lyme disease, are becoming more and more common. Data from the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights that around 476 thousand people are diagnosed with
Lyme disease yearly, with symptoms ranging from headache to fever, skin rashes, and migraines.
Left untreated, Lyme can spread to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Unfortunately, that’s not all:
Other diseases carried by ticks can damage red blood cells and cause severe muscle aches and chills.
With tick-borne diseases seemingly looming over our heads all year round in Massachusetts, it’s essential to
take practical measures to avoid getting a tick bite.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beautiful weather and spend time outdoors. Just keep the following safety tips in mind when outside:
Tick Bites Are Also Harmful to Your Pets
Your pets are also highly susceptible to tick infections and may carry Lyme disease without you realizing it. Since most pets have thick, furry coats, it can be challenging to detect a tick bite early on.
That’s why pet owners need to be wary of ticks, especially in the warmer months when these insects are more active. Consider using flea and tick medication in combination with outdoor tick control to minimize the pests around your home.
This way, the whole family can enjoy outdoor time without worrying about ticks.
Know that tick bites can happen at any time of the year — there is no one month when ticks are the most active in Massachusetts. The season spreads from March to August and peaks in mid-summer and during the rainiest parts of fall when the humidity levels are high.
Ticks most commonly frequent outdoor spots like gardens, parks, and woodsy areas but may shelter themselves inside your house to avoid the cold weather. They’re a threat to pets and humans, be sure to take preventative measures to protect your family from ticks.
At GreenHow, we offer expert tick control and prevention services in Massachusetts. Our professionals determine where these pests are located and treat your property using safe applications.
Contact us today for a free estimate!