Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ticks Don't Die

Planned to list here the good things about a snowy subzero winter, and the first thing I thought was that a hard winter kills ticks so summer will have fewer.

I didn't recall who'd told me that, but facts found on the Laboratory of Medical Zoology site say deep cold will indeed kill the ticks who are above ground--but most winter below ground, sleeping in leafmeal, and when it thaws they'll latch on to the first available warm body. Ticks are always aiming for a place on your or an animal's head or neck, where blood circulation is abundant and good. That's the bad news. The good news is that a tick who's been on you less than 24 hours is unlikely to have transmitted a disease. So the city-dweller freakouts I've seen when my guests find a tick are unwarranted (but fun to watch).

It's fleas who are killed by cold. But their eggs, wherever they laid them, are just fine and can take as long as three years to hatch.

So: One good thing about a miserable winter (sneeze) is that ticks are inactive.

Second good thing: Snow is picturesque. Photo is of my pumphouse this morning. That little plastic table I got from LaBarque Creek when it flash-flooded. I've never opened that door, having witnessed bees and wasps disappearing beneath its eaves into the pumphouse interior, maybe forming a whole colony. I can only tell you that it works and that its water is tasty but very hard. I've lived here 13 winters now and the pump (electric) has never frozen.

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