Though Florida has had one or two weeks this year where the temperature dropped below sixty, overall it has been a very mild and some may even say hot winter. This has lead to the state’s parasite population remaining strong from the early spring and sweltering, wet summer the state went through.
The Tampa area has certainly suffered through this tick season, with people in wooded areas like the Eastlake Woodlands area of Oldsmar having to suffer even more than people in more urban locations, often finding ticks on themselves or their pets.
There are a few reasons for the tick population boom, a few of the obvious ones being:
Climate Change: With warming temperatures and more unpredictable weather (especially in the northern states) ticks are showing up in places that were once thought to be too cold for them to survive. Typically, cold nights that are under 40 degrees would kill them off, but with that happening less frequently, ticks are surviving and multiplying.
Changes in Bird Flight Patterns: The change in weather also has other effects that are causing increased tick populations, such as birds flying to new areas that are now deemed warmed enough for them to travel to and live. Ticks will attach to birds and travel through the air for long distances, bringing them to new places. It’s like a vacation for them, but not a vacation for those who have to deal with them!
Increased Deer Population: Deer are a popular host for ticks, so it only makes sense that the more deer that are around the more ticks will be around as well because they have plenty of hosts to feed on. We can thank this boom on nearly all of the deer’s natural predators being hunted to near extinction.
More Suburbs: New neighborhoods are popping up everywhere, and reaching further and further out into the wilderness. All this construction is causing confusion amongst the wildlife, as they begin to appear in the neighborhoods they once called home. This wildlife will have ticks on them, bringing them around the homes. Ticks aren’t picky when choosing a host, so if they’re around you and your dog they have no problem latching on for a meal.