UMaine researchers: with right conditions, ticks can survive cold temps

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Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:55 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - With summer in Maine comes increased attention on ticks. However, new research is uncovering information about their activity during the wintertime.

A team from the University of Maine discovered that in the right conditions, ticks can survive in bitterly cold temperatures. They ran tests all over the state and found that with insulation from leaf litter and snow pack, ticks were surviving as well in Presque Isle as they were in Cape Elizabeth.

Assistant Professor Allie Gardner called the findings surprising and interesting.

She says they were interested in learning more about what’s currently constraining the range of the black legged tick, which are not densely populated in Northern Maine. With that knowledge, scientists can understand and be better prepared for where they’re likely to spread in the future.

“There are strategies that we can undertake to try to reduce tick densities. Certainly, health care providers need to be aware of the threat of tick borne disease in areas where the range expansion of the tick is ongoing. And so, understanding and being able to predict in the future where ticks are likely to emerge is really consequential for public health and that’s what was motivating our interest in this research,” said Gardner.

Gardner says this field work was the first of its kind to be conducted this far north.

She says while ticks are most active this time of year, research shows they can still present a risk in colder months, too.

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