Official Says Climate Change Is Affecting Regional Tick Activity

HYANNIS – A local bug expert said climate change is playing a role in changing tick activity on Cape Cod and throughout the Northeast.

Barnstable County Entomologist Larry Dapsis said that although host animals are what drive the population of ticks in the region, warming temperatures are causing distribution changes in their population.

And that’s affecting how long ticks stay active throughout the year.

“Anything that’s going to increase precipitation levels, which would create longer periods of higher humidity patterns, is going to tip things in favor of the ticks being active for longer periods of time,” Dapsis said.

He said climate change is also a contributing factor to why the Cape has seen Lone Star ticks in the region over the last eleven years as they move northward.

Although ticks are inactive in colder months, Dapsis said they have an adaptation that allows them to survive cold weather.

“People have been calling me that get tick bites in January, February, and a number of people are surprised, but ticks make anti-freeze, so they’re kind of an indestructible little creature,” he said.

Dapsis advised people on the Cape to be mindful when outdoors, look into permethrin-treated clothing, and to avoid repellant products that are not registered with the EPA.  

Spraying yards and possible pet protection against ticks were other ways Dapsis mentioned people could try to avoid the pests.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

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