It was -4 at the house at 5am this morning. Walking up the icy, snow crusted driveway to get my morning Bangor Daily News I gazed up at the billions of stars in the black winter sky and gave thanks to the firewood, Bio-bricks, nut coal, and bags of scrap boards from the Maine State Prison’s craft showroom that are stacked in my porch ready to heat our house today.
This unseasonable deep freeze is not totally unwelcome to me. I’ve actually slept out in far colder temps. I am in the hopes that a week of single to subzero cold, plus the north wind that chills it even further, will kill off ticks.
I remember reading that a period of prolonged subzero temps kills deer tics, the variety that are associated with Lyme disease here in Maine. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.
Bangor Daily News reporter Aislin Sarnacki researched this situation back in 2014 in her column entitled : Experts say cold winter likely won’t kill Maine’s ticks.
The takeaway is that subzero cold kills them, but the fact that the ground is now covered by an 12″ thick insulating layer of snow allows them to borrow deeper into the leaf cover and survive only to be back to plague us again in 2018.
I’m planning on buying a fresh can of repellent for the New Year. As a tick repellent, permethrin wins hands down. That plus more daily checks fills out my New Year’s resolution. I was diagnosed with Lyme two years ago, and was also the victim of a hidden fat deer tic this past fall that resulted in another round of antibiotics. We’re not going to win here, folks. Tics have existed for 15 million years – long before any humans walked on Earth. We have to work it out with them.