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The Effects Of Climate Change On Tick Populations

Tick season comes around every year, but no two tick seasons are always the same. Many factors play into how ticks survive and thrive in certain areas. One of the biggest factors is climate. The environment in which ticks live needs to be perfect for them to breed and survive throughout the year – meaning ticks and climate change have more to do with one another than you might have thought.

Depending on climate conditions, one of two things can happen: tick populations can die down, or they can breed and spread out of control. Tick populations have rarely remained steady because of significant changes to the environment in recent decades. Climate change affects species across the globe, and ticks are just one of the many species whose trajectory can be altered by changing climates.

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What Warmer Winters Mean For Tick-Borne Disease

Winters nowadays look significantly different than they used to mere decades ago. Many areas that used to be home to the harshest winter weather now see milder temperatures, less snow, and more rain. These changes are mainly due to the effects of climate change on the globe.

Milder temperatures are making their way to areas where snow and cold are usually present. In areas where snowfall is unlikely, cold snaps are occurring. Climate change is complicated, and scientists are still trying to predict and understand how it’s causing these extreme weather changes.

While it’s true that these global changes can lead to harsher winters with more intense blizzards, the opposite is true for many areas in the northern part of the country. The states that border Canada are often predisposed to cold winters and heavy snow. However, in recent years, those areas have been experiencing record-breaking warmer temperatures because the atmosphere is heating up.

Climate change affects all life on earth – including tick populations. But how does climate change affect ticks and the spread of the diseases they carry? Let’s investigate what warmer winters mean for tick-borne disease.

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Infectolab - tick on plant

What Extreme Weather Conditions Will Mean For The Global Tick Population

For Lyme disease to thrive in the United States, tick populations also need to thrive. It’s a cyclical occurrence that when ticks have a “good” year, Lyme disease numbers tend to increase. With the global onset of environmental changes, though, the effects on the United States climate have been detrimental.

Consider the wildfires that rage through California. Although climate change may not be a direct cause, it is a threat multiplier, meaning that it increases the risk that such events will be worse than in previous years. But what does this have to do with tick populations and Lyme disease?

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