TickSmart

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Answer:

It does depend somewhat on where you live, but in most of the USA, the greatest risk for tick-borne disease transmission is from May - July.

Nymphal blacklegged ticks carrying the agents of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis in the eastern and mid-western U.S. are joined by adult American dog ticks carrying the agents of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, especially in the south Atlantic and Mountain regions. Nymphal and adult Lone Star ticks carrying the agent of ehrlichiosis also are most abundant during May - July.

But that doesn't mean you can forget about ticks the rest of the year, especially in the Fall. Adult blacklegged ticks carrying Lyme, babesia, and anaplasma are exceptionally abundant in October - December and again from February - April, while nymphs and adults of western blacklegged ticks transmitting the agent of Lyme disease are most abundant from January - April.

Dig Deeper!

Just because you don't see the ticks, doesn't mean they aren't present or even abundant. This is especially true in deer tick country during May - July, where we often hear statements like, "the ticks were really bad in the early spring (March - April) but then I hardly saw any all summer." For example, during the summer of 2012 in Rhode Island, our nymphal deer tick surveillance revealed that these ticks were 100% more abundant than the previous year and the 5-year average, yet people mentioned all of the ticks they saw during the spring (adult deer ticks, Am. dog ticks) but not the plague-level of nymphs in the summer. It seems that "seeing is believing".

This is an important point, because for most people to be willing to take appropriate preventive actions (wear tick repellent shoes and clothing, do yard tick treatments, do daily tick checks), they need to believe that they are at risk - and if you're not seeing the ticks, then, "where's the risk"?

Every tick species and stage has their own SEASON OF ACTIVITY. To avoid dangerous tick bites, it's important to know when and which ticks are active in your area. Being TickSmart and knowing this, then taking seasonally appropriate preventive actions is the best way to Stay TickSafe!

Disclaimer: Following this advice is considered best practice but TERC cannot guarantee that a person following this advice will not contract a tick-transmitted infection.