Will Record Cold Spell Kill Deer Tics ?


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. 

4 thoughts on “Will Record Cold Spell Kill Deer Tics ?

  1. Rockdawg69

    Plus 1 on the article that cold does not kill ticks when there is forest duff for them to burrow into. Insulation helps them just like us. The only viable solution is to remove the duff layer so that there is no place to hide. I find that controlled burns on the farm every couple years takes care of the majority of tick issues. Plus it helps regenerate other grasses and herbaceous plants that benefit the turkey, quail, and deer, as well as other birds and wildlife.
    Glad your wood supply is well stocked. Can’t give it away down here. Still have 7 large piles of pecan and oak cut and stacked that no one wants. Maybe a large New Years eve bonfire is in order!!!!!!!!


  2. Janet

    Hi Tom, not a toasty morning for sure. I am glad you mentioned about ticks, that was my glimmer of hope. Yet, until 25 or 30 years ago, ticks were a rarity. Black flies? Yes! But i could be in the thick woods lay down in fields and neither my dog(s) nor i ever cam up with a tick any season. I had one in the woods of Northern California once, and one in Maine in 76. That was it though. Now they are unbiquitous. Mowing has kept them down.
    But This chilliness should glean us some benefit, at least.


  3. Janet,
    One of the best things about hiking in Newfoundland this past August was learning that there are, so far, no tics on that island. I have been a little cavalier about tics , but not any more.


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