As 2015 moves toward spring, unseasonably warm temperatures have brought winter recreation to an end in many parts of the United States. Although the winter season hasn't officially departed for good, the warming trend brings a new subject to the forefront—ticks.
Summertime is high season for ticks, but they start getting into gear in the springtime. And it's an issue you should take very seriously. That's because preliminary results from three different evaluation methods cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that around 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States.
That's a lot.
Even more concerning is a new study suggesting that changing climate patterns may be alter the life cycles of some ticks in the northeastern U.S., which could increase transmission among animals, and, ultimately, humans. “The bottom line is that as the climate warms, it is pushing the timing of tick nymphs and larvae forward, potentially changing the interactions they have with their hosts," said Taal Levi, an assistant professor in Oregon State University's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the lead author on the study.
It's important to understand how a tick grows and develops so you can be best protected. Ticks go four stages of life: egg, larvae (or seed tick), nymph, and adult. Adult female ticks breed while attached to a host animal, and later fall to the ground to lay their eggs, which can number in the several thousand's at one time. These eventually hatch into the larval stage, at which point they will hang out on grass and brush, waiting for a host to come by. (Contrary to popular belief, ticks cannot jump onto their hosts.) These larval ticks, also known as seed ticks, must find a host in order to complete their next life stage. If they are successful in their quest (and that is actually the scientific term for this process: questing), they gorge themselves with blood for a few days, then fall back to the ground, and molt into nymphs. The waiting game starts again as the nymph seeks a new, probably bigger this time, host. After engorging themselves and dropping again, they are finally adults.
Now that you understand how ticks operate, you need to understand how to protect yourself. Always keep Tick Releaser Spray on-hand if there's even a remote possibility that you might pick up a tick. The helps release the tick and provides a handy test kit for you to submit the tick for diagnostic testing. Don't get caught unawares and don't get caught unprepared. It's a very small price to pay for what could potentially save your life--or someone else's.