Last year, a customer wrote to us with a number of very important questions concerning the timing of tick treatments. Because the egg-laying season of ticks in the Bucks County and Montgomery County areas in once again upon us, we figured this would be an ideal time of year to share our response with all of you.
—Peter Benz (Founder, Peter Benz Landscaping)
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Q. When do adult ticks lay their eggs and hatch?
Adult ticks will lay their eggs in the spring, which will then hatch into larvae in the summer season. The larvae tend to become most active in the month of August. At this point, these ticks do not have Lyme disease, because they must feed on an infected host in order to become infected.
Q. What are the life stages of a tick?
A tick has three life stages over a two-year period. There is one blood meal (feeding) per stage before they molt into the next stage. Remember, though, that a newly hatched larvae cannot pass Lyme disease onto a human, because they don’t yet have the disease. The disease must be picked up from an infected host. That host is usually a mouse.
After its one blood meal, the larvae will transform into nymphs in the fall. This is the most dangerous life-stage of a deer tick, because they are still as tiny as larvae, but may now be carriers of Lyme disease.
The nymphs will remain inactive throughout the winter and early spring. May through June is the period of peak activity for the nymphs. After they have their blood meal, they drop off the host into the leaf litter and molt into adults. These adults look for their blood meal hosts in the fall, most actively in the months of October and November.
The adults that haven’t attached themselves to a suitable host in the fall become active early in the spring, during which they search for their last blood meal. This last feeding and mating must occur in order for the female adult deer ticks to lay their eggs. Remember: These eggs will not hatch into larvae until the summer.
Q. How do I know if I’ve been bit by a disease-carrying tick? And what should I do?
If you, a friend or a family member experienced a tick bite in the autumn, it was most likely by an adult. If the tick was tiny, it could have been a nymph that was actively searching for an early blood meal. Either one of these two stages of tick could be a carrier of Lyme disease or other co-infections.
Here at Peter Benz Landscaping, our timing for the tick tube installations is on time — and perhaps even a bit early — for the egg-laying season in the Bucks County and Montgomery County areas. We are also going after the dangerous nymphs with this first treatment.
Q. How exactly do your tick tube installations work?
The goal is to get the cotton into the nests of the mice so the permethrin in the cotton binds with the oils on the mice’s fur. In the spring, any ticks, adults or nymphs that come into contact with the mice from these treated nests are killed as they try to feed on the hosts.
The second application of tick tubes in the summer is targeted to the newly hatching larvae, as well as the nymphs and the adults that these mice may encounter in their travels. Incredibly, there can be anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 deer tick larvae born in one mouse nest. It’s best, of course, if all these larvae are killed in the nest (by coming into contact with permethrin-treated cotton) before they leave.
The price for the two tick treatments varies based on the size and amount of thick mouse habitat available.
Please contact us as soon as possible if anyone you know needs help battling Lyme disease. Anyone who has been infected recently, by the way, should be able to get rid of the infection quickly with the use of antibiotics. Doxycycline tends to be the most commonly prescribed option. It is when the disease goes undiagnosed for a lengthy period of time that it becomes more difficult to beat.