What’s the Tick Forecast for 2021?
May 25, 2021
Earlier this month we examined what this summer might be like in terms of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses for this season. We thought it was only fair to spend equal time on another biting pest, common in our region, that could also cause illness – the black-legged tick. The New England regional tick forecast for this season according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Weather Service, and National Pest Management Association is one that all people who live and visit our area should be aware of before heading outdoors.
When Is Tick Season?
Before we jump into what pest and disease experts predict for the tick forecast this year, it’s a good idea to remind our readers about when the tick season begins and when it may peak in 2021.
Tick season in New England kicks off in the early spring, just when the weather is improving and people all over the region are looking to get outside after a long winter indoors. In the past few years, “tick season” seems to have gotten longer with tick bites now having two peaks, one happening in the first week of June and a second peak in October/November, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What Will Tick Season Be Like This Year?
If statistics of the past decade are any indicator, this tick season could be record-breaking!
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the CDC have published warnings about the rise in tick-borne diseases over the past decade. “According to new research human cases of tick-borne Lyme Disease are more common in the U.S. than previously thought. Based on insurance records from 2010 to 2018, the CDC estimates that approximately 476,000 people were diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease each year in the U.S., representing a staggering 44 percent increase compared to the previous annual estimate of about 329,000 people from 2005 to 2010.”
What’s even worse, is that the CDC believes that not only are the prevalence of tick-borne diseases increasing at a record pace, the geographic range of these ticks is also expanding. That could translate into a wider area of our population experiencing potential tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.
A 44% increase from the previous decade and an expansion of population areas is seriously bad news for nature lovers who love to get outside to hike, bike, and enjoy lazy summer afternoons outdoors. As a result of the alarming uptick in tick bites, the CDC and NPMA have issued warnings regarding outdoor safety precautions. (See below) But first we need to look at what factors are causing this tick population explosion.
What Factors Lead To A Tick Population Explosion?
You may be wondering what’s causing this rapid increase in Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Thankfully, experts are wondering the same thing and making some strides in researching what factors could be causing this rapid population increase.
Questions that are being asked and researched include:
- Are people spending more time outdoors?
- Are the mice and deer populations, which harbor blacklegged ticks, increasing at a similar rate?
- Is urbanization playing a role in the tick population increase?
- What role is climate change having on the population of wildlife and the ticks that live and feed off them?
While the main researchers at the CDC and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have been hard at work looking into the factors leading to the spike in tick bites and associated illnesses, they do agree that there is probably a combination of factors that are directly related to the increase of ticks related to the tick forecast. These include:
- Climate changes since warm, moist climates are ideal for ticks.
- Urbanization and the spread of homes into formerly wooded areas where wildlife live that harbor ticks. As humans encroach on wooded spaces, illnesses from the insects and wildlife can spread more efficiently.
- The impact of the pandemic on the increase of tick bites leading to Lyme Disease. More people spending time outdoors doing activities that would normally keep them inside may be having an unexpected negative result.
What Tick Bite Precautions Should New Englanders Take?
The bottom line is that this tick season could be one for the record books and prevention is our best chance at avoiding tick bites and the illnesses associated with them.
Pest-End Exterminators can help ease your mind about the potential tick and mosquito population in your backyard with our tick treatments. Our protection program includes regular monthly treatments throughout the active tick and mosquito season. In addition, we offer a maximized tick & mosquito program where we conduct two treatments per month to offer a more aggressive approach.
Even with an alarming tick forecast, we can all take steps to safeguard against tick bites. When our technicians visit your home for these treatments, they may make recommendations on ways to further reduce the pest populations at your property. These will include steps such as:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and closed-toed shoes when headed out especially into wooded areas.
- Avoid heading into areas where you will walk through bushes or trees, rather stay on paths that are well traveled and have trimmed back brush.
- Treat clothes and footwear with picaridin to deter ticks from staying on your clothing.
- Wear insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET when outdoors, even in your own backyard.
- When you arrive home, or head in after being outdoors, place your clothes in a high heat dryer cycle.
- Inspect your skin for ticks including often missed areas like the groin, armpits, hairline, and behind the knees.
- Shower as soon as possible to wash away any ticks that have not latched on or bitten yet.