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Does "killing frost" kill deer ticks?

Updated September 27, 2013

Frozen Tick: CG: credit:BM

If you think that recent nighttime temperatures dropping into the 20's is going to kill off the adult deer ticks crawling just about everywhere these days... well, think again! The killing frost may finish off your garden and the pesky mosquitoes that have remained around, but not the deer ticks. These ticks just don't die from the cold.

Instead, they typically retreat daily into the leaf litter to stay hydrated. Then, they'll climb back onto knee-high vegetation any time temperatures are above freezing, hoping to latch on to a passing deer, dog, cat, or human. To some, these ticks seem tough; they'll be out there until the ground freezes. And they'll be back as soon as it thaws. You need to know this so you're not caught un-prepared.

You may be wondering what does kill these persistent creatures. Adult deer ticks die when they finally run out of energy reserves acquired back when they were nymphs. This typically happens in the following May. But May is when the poppy seed-sized nymphs become active, so there really are very few "tick free" breaks during the year.