We all like to think that our winters will kill off ticks, but it doesn’t – part of the reason that Lyme disease has spread so much in New England. But why doesn’t it? Because the ticks are good at finding shelter, according to a study that the Portland Press has covered (in this story):
The study isn’t complete, but preliminary results suggest leaves are more important than snow to tick survival, said Charles Lubelczyk, the research institute’s vector ecologist. He said snow, which was thought to provide ticks with insulation from the cold, did not make much difference in tick mortality. But snow cover was often thin during the warm 2015-16 winter, so it will be interesting to compare it with next winter, especially if there’s more snow.
Snow is called “poor man’s mulch” because it protects roots and underground plants from damage by sub-freezing temperatures, so the assumption was that it protected ticks, too. But maybe not so much.
Looks like I’ll have to do more raking in the fall … ugh.