• Katie Clow

Colourful leaves, pumpkin pie, and ticks

Summer is officially over, and fall is upon us. To some, fall means colourful leaves, crisp fresh air, apple picking and pumpkin pie. To others (like us!), fall also means peak activity of adult blacklegged ticks.

It's been pretty quiet at Pets & Ticks over the last few months, with minimal submissions since the beginning of August. During this time, adult and nymphal life stages of several species of ticks, including blacklegged ticks, are not actively questing (looking for a blood meal). Come late August / early September, blacklegged larvae hatch from their eggs and start questing. We rarely see larval submissions, though. Their small size (think pen dot) make them very challenging to identify. They also prefer go feed on small mammals, so they may not be biting larger mammals (e.g., dogs, humans) as frequently.

Fall marks the onset of adult blacklegged tick activity, with peak activity usually in mid-October. Both adult males and females are active, but it is much more common to see females on us and our furry friends, than males. This is because the male mates with the female (or several) while she is feeding and then after a small blood meal, he leaves the host. The female remains for 7-10 days, or more, in order to have a sufficient blood meal to feed her developing eggs.

With the beautiful fall colours and cooler temperatures, you're most likely excited to get outside and enjoy the outdoors before the Canadian winter hits. And you should be! Just remember that in wooded and brushy areas, you and your dogs may be at higher risk of tick bites. Ensure that your dog is adequately protected by speaking with your veterinarian (if you haven't already done so). And get into the habit of covering up, wearing DEET and doing a tick check every day.


P.S. If you do find a tick, remember to submit it to the Pet Tick Tracker (button in top right corner!)

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In 2016, Dr. Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary College launched the Pet Tick Tracker to help monitor changes in tick populations. Through this online tool, pet owners could submit reports of tick findings - and the response was overwhelming! He's now teamed up with Drs. Katie Clow and Michelle Evason to create Pets and Ticks - a comprehensive website that brings the Pet Tick Tracker together with up-to-date, evidence-based information on ticks in Canada.  


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