Vermont officials say tick season is now all year

  • The blacklegged tick. Courtesy Photo

VTDigger
Published: 5/21/2022 3:00:49 PM
Modified: 5/21/2022 3:00:30 PM

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is just starting its spring tick survey, but there may no longer be a beginning and end to tick season.

The agency runs the survey every year, visiting 48 sites across the state, twice in the spring and twice in the fall, to track tick numbers. Their first run of the season is set to kick off next week.

The agency has also spent the past year collecting data on when ticks are active throughout the year.

“It’s really a 12-month season now in Vermont,” said Patti Casey, the agency’s environmental surveillance program manager. Live ticks were found as early as February this year, she noted.

Of the 15 types of ticks identified in Vermont, six are known to transmit diseases.

The blacklegged tick is the most common and transmits Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, a bacterial disease.

Blacklegged tick bites are most common in the spring and fall months and account for over 99% of reported tick bites, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

While the agriculture agency has not yet conducted its tick count, Casey said there is anecdotal evidence from hunters that this year’s numbers could be higher than in past years.

“They’re saying that they are seeing a lot of ticks here, more than usual,” she said.

There are many factors that have made it difficult for experts to make predictions about the severity of tick season, Casey said.

One factor making tick season especially unpredictable is climate change.

“We were never really comfortable making predictions, but climate change has thrown everything to the wind,” she said.

State public health veterinarian Natalie Kwit said the health department conducts tick bite surveillance in real time and does not make projections.

“As far as risk communication, we always know we’re going to have lots of ticks,” Kwit said.

Regardless of tick surveillance data, the health department remains consistent in its tick bite prevention messaging: Use repellent containing at least 30% DEET, check your body for ticks and avoid tick habitats.




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