For the past few summers, New York City health officials have issued city-wide health alerts about ticks. The warning remains the same: there is increased risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses in the city.
Deadly ticks in New York are here to stay.
The idea of a tick biting you on the subway probably sounds strange. Unfortunately, ticks can be a problem – even in the biggest cities in the world. Incidents of the infamous tick-borne Lyme disease have nearly doubled in NYC over the past five years with experts seeing 700-800 cases in a year.
With ticks on the rise, it’s more important than ever to tick check New Yorkers and protect them from these dangerous bloodsuckers. Here’s what you should know:
Why Are Ticks in NYC?
Tick season starts in the summer, when the warm weather allows them to move around more easily and when their prey spends more time outdoors.
Factors that determine how bad a tick season will be include the mildness of the last winter, and the size of the rat and mouse population. Climate change and increased rodents post Covid-19 aren’t helping New York with its tick problem.
A mild winter means more ticks survive and reproduce to become active in the summer. A good year for mice and rats–another food source for ticks—means ticks always have something to eat. Both mice and rats carry ticks and have contributed to the rise of Lyme disease in New York.
Where Do New York Ticks Come From?
It’s easy to assume all the ticks in NYC originated upstate (figures). While it’s true that ticks have been a significant problem there, plenty of ticks were born right here in the Big Apple too.
The American dog tick is particularly common in all boroughs of New York City. You might encounter them in grass, bushes, brush, or trees in parks or green spaces.
The blacklegged tick – which often carries Lyme – is common in the Bronx and Staten Island but not other areas of the city. Lonestar and Asian longhorned ticks are also common in the Bronx and Staten Island but are less dangerous.
Ticks wait for and latch onto their prey and stay attached for 24 hours or more. It’s possible they will attach to pets or other people and hitchhike into the city from other areas. Once inside, ticks hide in dark, enclosed spaces to wait and rest until they need to feed again. They also may hunt near areas that see a lot of foot traffic, like hallways, subways, or near dumpsters.
Why Ticks in NYC Are a Problem
Ticks are notorious transmitters of disease. Lyme disease originates in the bloodstream of common mice and rats. When ticks feed on these rodents, they consume the Lyme-causing bacteria. When they feed on a human, they transfer that bacterium to the unfortunate victim. There is no vaccine for Lyme disease, and it can be a serious or even fatal disease if untreated.
Ticks also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis, and even the extremely serious Powassan virus. Attached ticks can take 24 hours or more to transmit a disease from previously transmitted blood to a human host. If you find one, remove it immediately and thoroughly wash the site of the bite. If you think the tick has been attached to you for an extended period, consult a doctor.
What Can I Do?
Wear pants, socks, and bug spray when walking in the park. Keep your hair tied or covered when gardening or landscaping. Avoid walking in tall grass or shrubbery. Whenever you spend an extended amount of time outside, you should check for ticks when you get back inside. Ticks live on the ground, so check your ankles and legs especially carefully. Make sure you check your pets too and consider a pet tick preventative for your them.
Heat kills ticks. If you’re worried a tick has latched onto your clothing or belongings, throw the items in the dryer when you get home. 15 minutes of drying on a high heat setting should kill off any ticks.
If you find a tick on your body, use a tweezers to remove it. Be careful to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible; the tick’s mouthparts are likely lodged in your skin. Pull carefully to ensure you get all everything out completely. When you’re finished, wash the site of the bite thoroughly.
New York Tick Control
For further questions about ticks in our city, reach out to one of our pest control experts. If you fear that your home has become an accidental boarding house for ticks, contact Assured Environments today. We’ll be able to identify why they’re there and make sure they don’t come back.