How Fleas & Ticks Survive the Winter: Frequently Asked Questions

We’re often asked: “Do fleas and ticks survive during fall and winter? Can they live in freezing conditions?” Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding YES.

In fact, those who struggle the most with fleas and ticks are usually those that fail to treat their pets and lawns during fall and winter. Practicing flea & tick prevention up until your area experiences freezing temperatures for two weeks or longer can save you a lot of trouble and money once spring returns. If you live in a colder region, that means treating your lawn monthly through early November and starting again in late February. If you live somewhere warmer like the South, it’s best to treat all year long. Regardless of where you live, however, we strongly suggest protecting your pets from fleas and ticks all 12 months of the year.

But if fleas and ticks really can survive the cold, how do they do it and what can you do about it? We have your answers below.

How Do Fleas & Ticks Survive the Cold?

It’s true that nearly all fleas and ticks cannot survive extended exposure to freezing temperatures unprotected. But like many animals during fall and winter, they have found ways to shelter and endure the cold regardless.

Some hide in organic matter like leaf or wood piles. Others overwinter adjacent to your home—maybe in your basic, garage, or storage shed. Another common tactic is to find warmth by hiding out on a host, like a wild animal or your pet. Dormancy is another effective approach. Although fleas cannot hibernate in this way, ticks can. Essentially they just shut off their bodies until friendlier weather returns and resources are available again.

Surprisingly, some ticks actually thrive in the colder months. Blacklegged ticks and the dangerous Winter tick, for example, are two types that live primarily during fall and winter. Blacklegged ticks actually take their first blood meal as the weather cools and Winter ticks live out their entire lives when it’s coldest outdoors.

The Winter tick is unique in that it spends its entire 8-9 month life cycle feeding on a single host, usually a moose, elk, or caribou. So harmful is this tick that it’s literally devastating moose populations throughout the country. In North Eastern Vermont alone, more than half of all moose calves die from blood loss caused by Winter ticks. And if a cluster of Winter ticks can outright kill a moose, just imagine what they could do to your dog, cat, horse, or child.

Do I Still Need Flea & Tick Protection in Winter?

That’s a big yes.

Whether you live in a warm climate or cold, we strongly suggest year-round flea & tick protection, especially for your pets. Given that a single flea can become thousands in just days and that fleas are the leading cause of skin disease in cats and dogs, it’s simply too risky to stop protecting your pets. The financial toll involved in getting rid of an active flea infestation or the vet bills associated with chronic flea problems are no less frightening.

The dangers of ticks, on the hand, are well known and terrifying, which is why we strongly advise you and your family to protect yourselves from bites anytime you venture into potentially tick-infested areas, such as tall grass, dog parks, or the outdoors.

How Do I Safely Control Fleas & Ticks and Prevent Bites?

Prevention is always the easiest, least expensive, and most effective type of pest control. The tips below will help greatly reduce the likelihood that you, your family, pets, home or lawn will struggle with fleas or ticks.

  • Do your best to stay up on lawn maintenance, including trimming shrubbery and small trees. Cluttered, overgrown lawns are a big problem when it comes to all bugs, but especially fleas and ticks.
  • If you’ve got random clutter in your yard—such as outdated tools and gear, disorganized piles of wood, brush, or leaves—it’s gotta’ go and quick. This is where bugs breed and hide.
  • The drier your lawn, the fewer fleas and ticks you’ll experience. Always repair leaky sprinklers or hoses right away and remove sources of standing water like unused buckets and pots. Clogged drainage areas and gutters are also problematic.
  • Before walks in unfamiliar places, dog park visits, and outdoor exploring, apply plant-based Ben’s Evictor to you, your family, clothing and gear to prevent harmful tick and flea bites. Apply Paws & Claws to cats and dogs to protect them, too.
  • Periodically check your pets for fleas and ticks, particularly after going outdoors. If you find any, promptly protect your pet with non-toxic Paws & Claws to kill and repel fleas, ticks, and other biting bugs.
  • To maintain a flea and tick-free yard, apply Natures Defender to your lawn monthly. Apply all year until you experience freezing temperatures for a couple weeks in a row.
  • To prevent fleas and ticks on your dog or cat, apply Paws & Claws every 2-3 days or more often as needed.
  • To help prevent indoor bug problems, including fleas and ticks, spray known trouble spots like pet areas, bedding, carpeting, doors and windows weekly with Ben’s Evictor.

For ongoing flea, tick or other bug problems in your yard, apply Natures Defender twice about a week apart and then monthly after that. Make sure to spray shrubbery, small trees, and your home’s foundation as well. Again, we suggest monthly applications year round unless you experience a few weeks of freezing weather consecutively.

Natures Defender is a worry-free product safe for your family, pets, and our planet, meaning no downtime is required after application before you can enjoy your lawn again.

For active indoor bug problems, including fleas and ticks, spray affected carpeting, furniture, fabrics, pet areas, bedding, floorboards, etc weekly or more often as needed. To kill bugs on contact, spray them directly with non-toxic Ben’s Evictor. And don’t worry, unlike other bug sprays, Ben’s Evictor is non-toxic and will not fill your home with harmful chemicals.

paws & claws pest control

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