Do Ticks Survive in Winter? Debunking Cold Weather Myths

Have you ever wondered if ticks survive in winter? Cold weather can make us question the survival of many insects and small creatures, including ticks. In this article, we will explore how ticks manage to thrive during the winter season.

Though it might seem unlikely, ticks can actually survive despite freezing temperatures. They have various strategies to adapt to the cold environment, such as seeking shelter in leaf litter or tall grasses. So, during winter, you should still be cautious and take preventative measures to protect yourself and your pets from ticks.

While some tick species may show a decrease in activity during colder months, others like the blacklegged tick can remain active even when temperatures drop below freezing. These ticks protect themselves by producing a type of natural antifreeze substance, allowing them to survive and search for hosts throughout the winter. So, be mindful of ticks and stay safe even when the snow starts falling.

Ticks and Their Ability to Survive Winter

General Survival Mechanisms

Ticks are resilient creatures and can indeed survive during winter, using a variety of methods. One way they achieve this is by becoming dormant, hiding in leaf litter or tall grasses to escape freezing temperatures.

Since you may think that ticks are inactive in the cold, it’s essential to remain vigilant even during winter months. Ticks can still pose a threat if they find a suitable host like you or your pets who can provide them warmth and a blood meal they need to survive.

Cryoprotectants and Diapause

Ticks have fascinating physiological adaptations that help them endure frigid conditions. One such adaptation is the production of cryoprotectants. These are substances that assist in protecting the tick’s cells from damage caused by freezing temperatures. Cryoprotectants work by preventing the formation of ice crystals within the cell, allowing ticks to maintain their functionality in the cold.

Another survival tactic employed by ticks is diapause, a period of dormancy similar to hibernation. During diapause, ticks undergo a state of suspended development, conserving energy and reducing their metabolic rate. This strategy enables them to withstand harsh environmental conditions and survive until the temperature becomes favorable again for their life cycle to continue.

In summary, ticks are hardy creatures with unique adaptations that enable them to survive, even during the winter months. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your pets from potential tick-borne diseases throughout the year.

Impact of Weather and Temperature on Ticks

Ticks in Freezing Temperatures

Ticks are resilient creatures that can often survive in freezing temperatures. They rely on snow pack and leaf litter for insulation during colder months. Deep snow can provide a protective layer, allowing them to avoid harsh conditions.

Despite this, extremely cold weather still impacts tick populations. Studies indicate that ticks can die at temperatures between -2 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. However, most ticks can still survive winter, with only around 20% of their population dying off.

The Effect of First Frost

The first frost can slow down tick activity, but it doesn’t necessarily kill them. When temperatures drop, ticks tend to become less active, which may decrease their chances to find a host. This temporary reduction in tick encounters helps lessen the spread of tick-borne diseases during winter.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to stay cautious, as ticks can still be found under leaf litter or other vegetation, waiting for a warmer day.

Adapting to Warmer Climate

Warmer climate conditions, due to climate change, can affect tick populations and increase tick-borne disease risk. As ticks spend most of their lives away from hosts, they are expected to adapt to changing conditions.

In a warmer climate, ticks may:

  • Have a shorter life cycle
  • Emerge earlier in the year
  • Expand their range
  • Increase the prevalence of diseases they transmit.

For example, black-legged ticks can complete their two-year life cycle in less than 12 months if the conditions are right. These changes can lead to a higher tick population density, posing a threat to human and animal health.

Overall, changing weather patterns play a significant role in tick survival and behavior. Regardless of climate conditions, it’s crucial to stay informed and take precautions to avoid tick encounters and the transmission of tick-borne diseases.

Predominant Tick Species in Winter

Blacklegged Ticks and Lyme Disease

The blacklegged tick is a common tick species that can survive and remain active during winter, particularly in milder climates. They are known carriers of the bacteria causing Lyme disease. In winter, adult blacklegged ticks can be found in leaf litter and wooded areas where deer may roam.

Lyme disease risk:

  • Higher in regions with cold winters
  • Often spread by deer ticks (a type of blacklegged tick)

Lone Star Ticks

Lone Star ticks are another tick species that can remain active throughout winter. While not as common, they are still a cause for concern due to their ability to transmit diseases such as ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. You can often find these ticks in wooded areas and grassy fields.

Lone Star tick-borne diseases:

  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Winter Ticks Impacting Moose

One tick species that’s known to thrive in winter is the winter tick or moose tick. These ticks are a significant problem for moose populations, causing irritation, hair loss, and even death due to blood loss and exposure to the harsh winter elements. Moose ticks are not usually considered a threat to humans.

Winter tick impact on moose:

  • Severe irritation
  • Hair loss
  • Anemia and potential death

To better understand these tick species and their associated risks, take a look at this comparison table:

Tick Species Active in Winter Common Hosts Diseases Transmitted
Blacklegged Ticks Yes Deer Lyme disease
Lone Star Ticks Yes Various Ehrlichiosis, RMSF
Winter Ticks Yes Moose (No known human diseases)

Remember to take precautions when outdoors, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and checking for ticks after spending time in areas where they may be present.

Ticks Interaction with Hosts During Winter

Feeding Patterns on Adult Hosts

Ticks need blood from a warm-blooded host to survive. In winter, tick life stages include larva, nymph, and adult. Adult ticks remain active even in cold months when they can find a host.

For example, adult ticks can still feed on deer or other large mammals, which help them to stay alive during winter. Remember, feeding on a host ensures their survival.

Deer’s Role in Tick Survival

Deer play an essential role in tick survival, mainly because they are ideal hosts and serve as a food source for ticks during winter months. Their large body size and warm-blooded nature provide ticks with the necessary warmth and blood supply. Here’s a quick comparison table between ticks that feed on deer and those that do not:

Ticks Feeding on Deer Ticks Not Feeding on Deer
Higher survival rate Struggle to survive
Access to blood meals Limited food source
Warmer host environment Cold and harsh conditions

Pets and Ticks in Winter

Your pets, especially dogs, can also help ticks survive in winter. These ticks may attach and feed on your pet, obtaining the necessary blood and warmth to survive. Some points to remember about pets and ticks in winter include:

  • Keep an eye on your pets and check them regularly for ticks
  • Maintain proper grooming and vet visits for tick prevention
  • Be aware of indoor-outdoor pets potentially bringing ticks inside with them

To summarize, ticks can survive in winter by feeding on available warm-blooded hosts such as deer, pets, and other large mammals. Be vigilant to protect your pets, home, and yourself from ticks during the cold months.

Winter Behavior of Ticks

Hibernation and Dormancy

During winter, some ticks may become dormant, while others hibernate to survive the cold temperatures. In dormancy, ticks will slow down their metabolism and activity, allowing them to survive until temperatures warm up again. For example, blacklegged ticks, which transmit Lyme disease, may burrow under leaf litter or even snow during winter to conserve energy and stay protected from harsh weather conditions.

Transportation via Hosts

Ticks can also rely on hosts for survival during winter months. By attaching themselves to animals like deer, birds, or rodents, ticks can hitch a ride to warmer areas or even inside homes, where they can find a more suitable environment to survive. Due to this transportation by hosts, ticks may still pose a threat in winter, especially for pets or humans in tick-prone regions or areas with increased wildlife activity.

Habitat Preference

Ticks have specific habitat preferences, which affect their ability to survive during winter. Here are a few key points:

  • Some tick species are better adapted to withstand cold temperatures and can remain active throughout winter, depending on the regional climate.
  • Ticks in wooded areas or with dense vegetation may have more protection from harsh winds and freezing temperatures, providing them better chances of survival.
  • Ticks that live in leaves or burrows use these natural insulation methods to remain protected from the cold.

Remember, even when temperatures drop, it’s essential to stay vigilant against ticks and take necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family, and your pets from tick-borne diseases.

Protective Measures Against Winter Ticks

Tick Control During Winter

Ticks, including the winter tick, can survive and stay active throughout the colder months. To protect yourself and your surroundings, it’s essential to carry out tick control measures during winter:

  • Inspect your clothes and pets: After spending time outdoors, be sure to check your clothes and pets for ticks. Ticks can hitch a ride inside your home on clothing or pets.

  • Tumble dry clothes: To kill ticks on dry clothing, put them in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes after coming indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time might be necessary.

  • Prune trees and clear brush: Trim overgrown trees and shrubs around your home to reduce tick habitats.

  • Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM): The EPA recommends the use of IPM to minimize tick populations and prevent tick-borne diseases. IPM involves setting action thresholds, monitoring tick species, and promoting effective prevention tools.

Preventing Tick Diseases

Taking preventive measures against tick bites can help in reducing the risk of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease. Follow these tips:

  • Wear protective clothing: When venturing outdoors, wear long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to minimize the exposed skin where ticks can latch on.

  • Apply tick repellent: Use a repellent with DEET, picaridin, or another EPA-registered ingredient on your skin and clothing to deter ticks. Remember to follow product instructions.

  • Be cautious in tick-infested areas: If you’re in an area known for ticks, stay vigilant by sticking to the center of trails and avoiding tall grass or heavy brush.

By adopting these preventive measures during winter, you can keep ticks at bay and reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Tick

 

Subject: In my bed
Location: West Palm Beach
February 20, 2013 6:48 am
I do not believe these are bed bugs as the head is not pronounced and we have not been bitten. There are not that many of them as well. they are under my mattress and sometimes on top.
Signature: Thank you, Joel T. [Ed. Note:  Surname withheld for privacy]

Tick

Hi Joel,
You are correct.  This is not a Bed Bug, but it is a blood sucking Tick and it appears to be engorged.  We suspect that perhaps you have a pet dog or cat that goes out and sleeps on the bed.  You should try to do a thorough cleaning and elimination.  Ticks do not prefer humans as prey, but if they are hungry, they will bite people.  FYI, we have taken the liberty of editing your surname from this posting in an effort to save you and your family from potential embarrassment.

Letter 2 – Tick

 

jelly bean sized grey bug
Location: Encinitas, California
January 31, 2011 5:44 pm
Dear Bugman,
I found our jelly bean friend while walking my dog, brought it home for a few photos and returned it to where I found it. It is about the size of a jelly bean, has a flexible exoskeleton with what appears to be small holes and shifting indents on its back.
What is this bug!?
Signature: curiousjae

Tick

Hi curiousjae,
We knew just by your subject line that you had found a blood engorged Tick, but alas, we do not possess the necessary skills to classify this Tick to the species level.  We believe the correct answer can be found on BugGuide.  Is there an Acarologist out there who can provide the correct answer as well as the identifying traits?

Letter 3 – Tick

 

Florida Cat Tick
Location: Tampa, Florida
December 27, 2010 12:27 pm
Hi. I live in Tampa, Florida, near the Lutz-Tampa County Line Road. For the last 2 months we’ve seen a whole bunch of these ticks on our outdoor cat (his chin and neck) but we bring him inside when the night-time weather will be below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.78 Celsius) so he’s spent a lot of time inside lately because its been a cold winter. He brought some in with him. I just pulled a fat blood-engorged one off our strictly indoor cat and was wondering if it could have caused her recent FUO (fever of unknown origin). Her temp fluctuated between 101.3 and 105.2 F (38.5-40.67 C) for a week and a half. Fever, and the lethargy and appetite loss that accompany it, were her only symptoms. I took her to the vet when the fever got dangerously high (seizures and brain damage high); a round of antibiotics helped her beat it. (P.S. Normally a cat’s temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 F or 38-39.16 C, and I didn’t take her sooner because I knew techniques to ke ep her hydrated and get her to eat.)
It doesn’t look like (basic body shape) the tick pics I’ve seen. Its legs all seem to be in the front, near its head, instead of spread out across the body. I was thinking maybe it is not in the adult stage. Also, its blood sac was more dark brown before I put it in rubbing alcohol (now it’s tan/yellow). Its body is soft, not hard.
The squares of the graph paper are 5 mm x 5 millimeters.
Also, I would like to know what you think about HOW I removed the tick. I followed the instructions here.
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-remove-a-tick/
The directions say to rub the tick in a circular motion like you’re trying to make it dizzy. I tried it and the tick released after about ten seconds. It worked BEAUTIFULLY!
Unfortunately, one of the site comments discouraged this technique, as annoying a tick with rubbing alcohol, vaseline, matches, or squeezing (and apparently spinning) can make the tick spit/regurgitate into the bloodstream some nasty, harmful pathogens. What do you think? (I think that the spinning technique works so fast that even if it is an irritant that could make them spit, they release so quickly that they don’t have a chance to.)
I’d really like to ID the tick because my brother thinks my cat is starting to act lethargic again.
Also, (SORRY) if I want to store the tick, in case my cat DOES get sick again, so that the tick can be tested for diseases. Do I leave it in rubbing alcohol or put it in something else, because I saw on a CSI episode that they couldn’t do a DNA test on a severed head because it had been transported/preserved in formaldehyde.
Signature: Katie Kitty

Tick

Dear Katie Kitty,
We are very reluctant to give medical advice, and that includes advice for pets as well as people.  We would strongly suggest that you consult with a veterinarian regarding your questions.  We can tell you that Ticks are known carriers of pathogens including Lyme Disease.  We imagine that preserving a Tick in rubbing alcohol may render any testing for pathogens unreliable.  We believe this may be a Black Legged Tick or Deer Tick,
Ixodes scapularis, based on an image posted to BugGuide.

Tick

Letter 4 – Tick

 

Subject: What is this
Location: Ludlow mass
March 10, 2017 9:47 pm
Please tell me what this is it was in my bed!
Signature: Jessica

Tick

Dear Jessica,
This is a Tick.  Perhaps it came in on your pet dog.

Letter 5 – Tick

 

what’s this strange bug?
Yo!
I accedently stumbled onto this site while trying to identify this bug I recently found on my dog’s blanket. I’ve looked through some books and all through google images and I’m stumped. So I’m hoping you can shed some light on what type of bug this and whether or not I should be worried. When I found it yesterday, nothing was coming out of it’s mouth. Today, there are a bunch of egg like bubbles.
Regards,
Sinh

Hi Sinh,
This very engorged Tick just had a nice meal of your dog’s blood.

Letter 6 – Tick

 


I found this thing in my hair the day after a hike in southern California. Admittedly, it could have just as easily been from my backyard. What is it?
Thanks!
Darcy Wronkiewicz

Hi Darcy,
Hikers in California often pick up ticks. Sorry, I don’t know the species. Luckily you found it before it bit you.

Letter 7 – Tick

 

what kind of bug is this?
November 16, 2009
Aloha
i found this bug and several more on my dog and on my sofa. Is this a tick? please view photo and let me know if this is in fact a tick or if not what kind of bug is it?
thank you
gmr
Oahu Hawaii

Tick
Tick

Dear gmr,
This is indeed a Tick.


Letter 8 – Tick

 

Small spider with very big bulge?
December 7, 2009
Hi, This is a picture of a bug (spider?) that my mom’s dog brought home. It was in her fur, fell off, and as you can see, mom captured it in a glass. I presume to put it outside. Ever seen anything like it?
Buttongirl
Terrasse Vaudreuil, Quebec, CANADA

Tick
Tick

Dear Buttongirl,
This is a blood engorged Tick, not a spider.  It probably fed off of your mother’s dog before falling to the ground.

Letter 9 – Tick

 

Is this a tick?
March 7, 2010
I found this on the front sidewalk. It moves slow and you can hardly see its legs. It is the color of dirty khaki. It looks like a tick, but is nearly as big as a dime. The usual ticks we see here in Colorado are much smaller and darker in color. The pictures with a small piece of bark are of the belly and the other of its back.
Nancy
Boulder CO

Tick

Hi Nancy,
You are correct.  This is a Tick and it appears to be engorged with blood.  According to BugGuide:  “Hard ticks have three distinct life stages. Larvae emerge from the egg having six legs. After obtaining a blood meal from a vertebrate host, they molt to the nymphal stage and acquire eight legs. Nymphs feed and molt to the next and final stage (the adult), which also has eight legs. After feeding once more, the adult female hard tick lays one batch of thousands of eggs and then dies. Only one blood meal is taken during each of the three life stages. The time to completion of the entire life cycle may vary from less than a year in tropical regions to over three years in cold climates, where certain stages may enter diapause until hosts are again available. Many hard ticks can go for several months without feeding if not unduly duressed by environmental conditions.

Letter 10 – Tick

 

Please help me to identify this bug!
June 4, 2010
I found this insect on the floor in my house. I picked it up because I at first thought it was an old grape or something my kids had left around, and when I flipped it over, I saw legs, which seemed to be curled up or tucked in somehow. Still believing the thing to be dead, I put it on the counter and went to fetch my husband. Upon our return the legs were extended. I live in southern Ontario, Canada, and it is early June; mid spring. It has been freaking me out a little as I hate having bugs in the house, and I have never seen anything like this thing before. I’m still not even sure if the specimen is alive or dead… Image one is the underside (I think) and shows the little legs and “face like” markings. Image two is from the top and image three is a profile of sorts.. Help!
Sherri
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Tick

Hi Sherri,
This is a blood engorged Tick.  It may have entered the house attached to your dog.  After the Tick engorged itself on your dog’s blood, it dropped off.

Letter 11 – Tick

 

Weird bugs
Location: Albuquerque New mexico
April 17, 2011 1:13 am
We keep finding these weird bugs in our house by our front door we recently brought our dog in the house to live with us while he recovers from a surgery we also found a tic in the house is this maybe another type of tic? (these photos were taken with a macro lens)
Signature: chris

Tick

Dear Chris,
Your suspicions that this is a Tick are correct.

Letter 12 – Tick

 

What is this bug?
Location: milwaukee, wi usa
June 15, 2011 11:00 pm
Hello, we are freaked out. This was on my daughter’s head. It was not burrowing in, but on the service, we pried it off easily but there was some blood on her scalp. Is it a tick, bedbug, lice? Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Signature: craig

Tick

Hi Craig,
This is a Tick.  Human are not the primary host for Ticks, but in the absence of a cat, dog or deer, these opportunistic feeders may feed off of the blood of a human host.

Letter 13 – Tick

 

weirdest bug ever
Location: Washington D.C. area, by chesapeake beach
December 7, 2011 10:59 pm
We found this bug, dead, on my little brother’s bed in a pile of what looked like it’s own goo. It has a huge abdomen and it looks like six tiny legs only on the front. It has, what looks like, one large eye in the front. Very strange, we are just a little freaked out because we have never seen anything like it and it was on his bed!
Signature: -Kris Moss

Tick

Dear Kris,
This is a blood engorged Tick.  Perhaps it entered the home on a household pet.

thank you for the reply. after i posted on your website i was able to figure that out on my own, it was fairly simple and i feel a little stupid. But maybe you can help me more, are there any steps that you suggest i take to ensure we dont find anymore?

Use a Flea and Tick product on your pet.

Letter 14 – Tick

 

Greyish Beetle?
Location: Calgary AB Canada
December 13, 2011 11:48 pm
Hi There
I’ve seen this bug all over the house and am wondering if you can identify it. Thanks!
Signature: Chelsey

Tick

Tick

Thank you for your speedy reply. We believe (and hope) they are coming off our dog. Most of them have been spotted in his favourite areas (dog bed, our bed, couch). Thinking back now I have also seen the smaller, baby-type ones. I thought it was just a small spider hiding in the trim/moulding around the doors. Thanks again for identifying it.
-Chelsey

Hi again Chelsey,
Sometimes in an attempt to provide as many responses as possible, we just provide a name to a request that we do not post.  We had a few spare minutes this morning so we are posting your letter and photo in the belief it may help other visitors to our site identify Ticks which are often found in homes at the onset of colder weather.  They most likely did come indoors by hitching on your dog.

Thanks Daniel. We took our dog to the vet and the vet spent 2 hours taking 25 ticks off him. Since then we have found about an additional 10 on him. We’ve scrubbed our house, finding probably 50 ticks (all sizes and shapes but mostly small/baby ones) and finding eggs as well..we’re hoping the cleaning will help prevent them from coming back.
Fortunately neither myself or my husband have been bit, just my dog. We did find one attempting to bite my rabbit as well but he couldn’t burrow far enough to reach the skin past the thick fur.
Do you know what their resistance to cold weather is? It’s floating around -5 degrees Celsius right now (at night going to about -10) and we bagged all of our clothes and put them on our porch, until we are able to wash them, in an effort to try and kill any hiding in our clothing.
We were shocked to hear our local exterminators had no tips on trying to get them out of the house. It’s unheard-of to have a tick infestation here. haha what luck I guess?
Thanks again
-Chelsey

Hi Chelsey,
Alas, we don’t know what the Ticks tolerance to low temperatures is.  Many insects and arthropods can withstand low temperatures for short periods of time.

Letter 15 – Tick

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Florida
December 6, 2012 8:48 pm
what bug is this that i found playing with my daughter??
Signature: whatbug

Tick

Dear whatbug,
This is a Tick, and they are blood suckers that can spread pathogens.  We would advise you to teach your daughter not to play with them.

Letter 16 – Tick

 

Subject: What the?
Location: Bellport, NY
May 30, 2014 1:50 am
I found this thing embedded in my skin. Wasn’t easy to pry off me. Pinched when i tried pulling off. I might have brought it inside while working in the garage earlier this evening. I thought it was a scab, but when i turned on the light, I saw this weird shiny looking thing. What is it?
Signature: BB

Tick
Tick

Dear BB,
You are lucky you were able to dislodge this blood-sucking Tick without the head remaining behind.

Letter 17 – Tick

 

Subject: Bed Bug or Not?
Location: California
April 19, 2015 11:17 am
found this on the back of my son and it was hard to pull it off. This was a single occcurance as well, I have moved the furniture and removed mattresses but no sign of eggs or more insects. I’m wondering if it’s a bed bug or something else which I don’t have to worry about eggs and infestation. I did already get bed bug spray as precaution and sprayed my kids bedrooms edges and corners as well.
Thanks in advance.
Signature: Ali

Tick
Tick

Dear Ali,
This is a Tick, not a Bed Bug, and it was most likely picked up outdoors.  Based on this image posted to BugGuide, it looks like an American Dog Tick,
Dermacentor variabilis.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:  “American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) is the most commonly identified species responsible for transmitting Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans. The American dog tick can also transmit tularemia. This tick is widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains and also occurs in limited areas on the Pacific Coast. D. variabilis larvae and nymphs feed on small rodents. Dogs and medium-sized mammals are the preferred hosts of adult D. variabilis, although it feeds readily on other large mammals, including humans.”

Letter 18 – Tick

 

Subject: Thus was in my back
Location: Rhode Island
May 9, 2015 8:08 pm
Thank god my wife was bothering me. She found this in my back. What is it?
I was recently in Scottsdale AZ.
Signature: Hopefully ok,

Tick
Tick

Dear Hopefully ok,
You were bitten by a Tick.  Ticks are known vectors for several diseases that can be spread to humans.  We would suggest a visit to a physician.

Tick
Tick

A tick, eh?  It looks different than I remember.  Thank you for helping clear that up.

Letter 19 – Tick

 

Subject: Thought it was corn
Location: Los Angeles
January 17, 2016 11:15 am
Hi,
Found this morning. May have been on the dog or not. Thought it was an unpopped corn until legs came out of it and started walking.
Signature: Dok

Tick
Tick

Dear Dok,
This is a blood-engorged Tick, and chances are good it fell off the dog.

Letter 20 – Tick

 

Subject: BUGS
Location: On my head
September 30, 2016 2:42 am
today i was bush walking and when I got home after a couple hours one part of my head really started to ache and I felt something scab like and I tried pulling it off, it just would not come off so I went into the bathroom and ripped it off to find it was something that looked like a spider, very small. Now there is a large lump where it was and my head still hurts. What was it?
Signature: I don’t know what this means

Tick
Tick

You picked up a Tick in the bush, and it sounds like it bit you.  You might want to seek medical attention as Ticks spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease and other potentially dangerous pathogens.

Letter 21 – Tick

 

Subject: Tick? Beetle?
Location: Chandler, AZ
August 2, 2017 9:17 pm
We’re beginning to find these in our home and it’s got me freaked out. I squished one and dark red came out. It looks black and has a rounded back. It’s so tiny it’s hard to zoom in. It moves slow. I’ve found one on dog’s bed (but not on dog), on wall, in bathroom, on stuffed animal. I’ve killed 7 in the last 2-3 days which has got be concerned.
Signature: S. Black

Tick

Dear S Black,
This is definitely a Tick.

Letter 22 – Tick

 

Subject:  Some type of tick maybe?
Geographic location of the bug:  North Mississippi
Date: 11/11/2017
Time: 09:23 PM EDT
Hi there, curious what this little guy is. I have had no luck researching on the internet 🙁
How you want your letter signed:  Rob Thompson

Tick

Dear Rob,
This is definitely a Tick, and it resembles this BugGuide image of an American Dog Tick, but we are not certain if that is a correct species identification because it also looks like this image of a Gulf Coast Tick, a species with a more limited range that includes Mississippi.

Letter 23 – Tick

 

Subject:  found on back
Geographic location of the bug:  Boise, Idaho
Date: 05/01/2018
Time: 11:08 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  hello, I was sitting in my bed going though my phone when I felt something on my back. I immediately picked this bug off and took a picture. only found one but I am interested in what it’s called.
How you want your letter signed:  Joesph

Tick

Dear Joesph,
Do you have a cat or dog that goes outside?  Were you tramping about in the fields lately?  This is a Tick and here is a BugGuide image of an American Dog Tick for comparison.  Ticks feed on blood.

Letter 24 – Tick

 

Subject:  Unknown bug
Geographic location of the bug:  North Florida, United States of America
Date: 08/13/2018
Time: 11:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found this crawling on my arm this morning (currently late summer here). I smooshed him a little because I panicked but I’ve never seen him before and cant find a picture that looks like him anywhere. Could you please identify him for me?
How you want your letter signed:  Sarah Sharpe

Tick

Dear Sarah,
This is a blood-sucking Tick, and based on this BugGuide image, we believe it is an American Dog Tick.

Letter 25 – Tick

 

Subject:  Identity
Geographic location of the bug:  NJ
Date: 02/18/2019
Time: 11:45 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this in our house yesterday. Haven’t seen anymore. Curious what this is.
How you want your letter signed:  Wayne

Tick

Dear Wayne,
Do you have a dog or other pet that goes outside?  This is a very well fed Tick, meaning it is engorged with blood.

Yes we have one dog that we take outside to go to the bathroom. Due to the winter he has not been outside to play on his dog run since  probably October. However a lot of leaves fell late after we already had snow on the ground so is it possible the ticks have survived the cold under those leaves?

Hi again Wayne,
Ticks must survive cold winters, or they wouldn’t be a problem in northern latitudes.  We don’t know how dormant they become or if they have any hibernating tendencies.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Dime Found on Couch in Ohio

 

Subject: What is this bug?
Location: Ohio
July 12, 2017 6:54 pm
I first noticed this bug when it was on my phone screen. The next day the same thing happened. I sprayed the entire couch that I was sitting on with 91% alcohol and laid white paper because they are hard to see other wise. I eventually find one and photographed it
Signature: Cc

Dime and Black Speck

Dear Cc,
This is not a bug.  It is a dime, unless you mean the unidentifiable black speck next to the dime.  There is not enough detail for us to identify the black speck.

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

19 thoughts on “Do Ticks Survive in Winter? Debunking Cold Weather Myths”

  1. We just found an American Dog Tick on my sister yesterday. It was flat as a pancake, so it was obviously a hungry tick. For some reason, people around here find more ticks on themselves than on the dogs they walk. I think that may be due to the flea drops people give to their pets, because some brands claim they repel ticks as well. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but it sure would explain a few things.

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  2. I have been bitten by a black bug, looks like a raisin,with legs, after it bit me it looked more brown with red tint , it leaves a big bite mark a chunck out of my skin, witch goes into a welt as big as half the size of my palm ,and gets hot painful and awful itching . it bite is painful and quick them repeats bite , and is gone so quick it has taken years to see one . I live in Ohio any idea what it is ?

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  3. Not a bed bug to large, it was black, looked like a raisin with legs, and was the same size of a raisin , leaves a large bite, and takes a chunck ot of my skin. It bites quickly and mulity bites and it hurts ! Always bites me when I am on my sofa several times a year ! Can’t find any trace of this bug !

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  4. I have never seen a tick this color and shape in our area. I have to assume it came in on our sweet collie. I will be getting Frontline for her tomorrow so the fleas and strange ticks, well all ticks, stay off of her! Gross!

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  5. I thought this was a rock in my house till it squished and noticed the legs. Same thing as picture. What stage is this, should I be worried it laid eggs in my house. Also curious what the bite looks like. I dont see any marks on myself and checking dog for any others.

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  6. Probably some kind of mite. Unless OP can take to local veterinary clinic, they might put it under a microscope for free to see what it is and they might have a camera to that microscope or you could put your phone camera lens to the eye piece and line it up just right to see. Good luck!

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  7. I’m sure the dime was put next to the “black speck” for scale. I’m surprised with the seemingly flippant response from What’s That Bug.
    While the photo is not that clear, it could be a deer tick.( Ixodes dammini or Ixodes scapularis ). It has been a particularly bad year for those of us living in an endemic area (which is growing year by year). I’d take Toby G.’s advice (above in comments). Good luck, indeed!

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  8. I’m sure the dime was put next to the “black speck” for scale. I’m surprised with the seemingly flippant response from What’s That Bug.
    While the photo is not that clear, it could be a deer tick.( Ixodes dammini or Ixodes scapularis ). It has been a particularly bad year for those of us living in an endemic area (which is growing year by year). I’d take Toby G.’s advice (above in comments). Good luck, indeed!

    Reply
  9. If you are not familiar with Ticks, please research them a bit. Having them around is not good news. They carry some bad diseases to humans and dogs.

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  10. Don’t want to create a panic but it should be said that those carry two bad diseases, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountaiin Spotted Fever. If that tick bit you enough to draw blood see a doctor for either disease.
    Any time you hike in wooded areas check your entire body for these bugs after the hike.

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  11. Don’t want to create a panic but it should be said that those carry two bad diseases, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountaiin Spotted Fever. If that tick bit you enough to draw blood see a doctor for either disease.
    Any time you hike in wooded areas check your entire body for these bugs after the hike.

    Reply
  12. I need help fast none of my family believes that I have a problem with a pearasites in my body because ALL THE test are coming back negative now it’s been so long I can see things in my stool so sorry but more from my lungs

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  13. Having had myself, relatives and dogs bitten by ticks, and some of them having been diagnosed with lyme or suspected of having some one of the many tick bourne diseases, I would like to share this website with you for tick i.d.. You can submit your photo to them.
    https://tickencounter.org/tick_identification
    Dogs get stuff just as easily as people. Depending on the immune system, any symptoms can take a week or 6 months or more to show. Disconcerting to know the ba#&%&d@ can be active in winter! You’re the 2nd one I’ve heard of this year. Take care.

    Reply
  14. Having had myself, relatives and dogs bitten by ticks, and some of them having been diagnosed with lyme or suspected of having some one of the many tick bourne diseases, I would like to share this website with you for tick i.d.. You can submit your photo to them.
    https://tickencounter.org/tick_identification
    Dogs get stuff just as easily as people. Depending on the immune system, any symptoms can take a week or 6 months or more to show. Disconcerting to know the ba#&%&d@ can be active in winter! You’re the 2nd one I’ve heard of this year. Take care.

    Reply

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