Ticks can survive a Northern winter. But can ticks survive a Southern summer?

Rhode Island Ixodes scapularis ticks survived just as well under northern and southern conditions. "Newly-emerged larvae from Rhode Island parents did not differ consistently in mortality under northern and southern conditions, possibly because of their younger age,” according to Ginsberg from the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, University of Rhode Island.


by Daniel J. Cameron, MD MPH

Older hybrid Ixodes scapularis ticks did not do so well. “Four month old larvae resulting from a cross between Wisconsin males and South Carolina females died faster under southern than under northern conditions in the lab,” explains Ginsberg. But then again, it is unlikely that an individual would be bitten by a laboratory raised hybrid tick in nature.

As the humidity rose, their ticks did well. “Ticks consistently died faster under southern than under northern conditions in the laboratory when relative humidity was low (75%), but not under moderate (85%) or high (95%) [relative humidity] RH.” These ticks have the ability to remain below the leaf litter in the South, according to Ginsberg.

The authors did not discuss the risk of a tick bite in the South once the humidity rises. It would be reasonable to drag for ticks beyond the summer months. Ticks can survive the South.

Read more on ticks and the South in “Don’t let your guard down on questing ticks in the south.”

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