Warm weather is happening across the country and, with it, you’re going to ride outside a whole lot more. Unfortunately, that comes with a risk of being exposed to a slew of pests, including ticks.

If you plan on taking your bike for a spin outside, especially if you love mountain biking, then it’s only natural to wonder when tick season is. After all these blood-suckers seem to have a habit of turning up with nice weather and they’re linked with a slew of scary diseases, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Here’s what you need to know about tick season—and how to stay safe out there in nature.

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When is tick season, exactly?

It depends a little on where you live, says Ben Hottel, technical services manager at Orkin. Some ticks, like the black-legged tick, which is more common in the Northeast and Midwest, “has a different cycle going on than ticks in the Southeast.”

But, he says, “you have to be really careful in the spring and summer months.” Warmer weather has caused tick season to expand a little so, as of now, you’re most likely to come into contact with these pests from April through October, says Marc Potzler, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control.

What time of the year are ticks most active?

Most ticks go through four life stages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After ticks hatch, they need to eat blood to stay alive.

Ticks can’t fly or jump but they tend to wait in a position known as “questing” where they hold onto leaves and grass with their third and fourth pair of legs and wait for a host to brush by the spot where they’re standing, the CDC says. Once a host comes by, they climb on them and attach to feed.

“Nymphs are active in the spring and summer months and are much harder to see,” Hottel says. Adult ticks, though, “are more active in the fall.”

In general, “ticks are most active in the warmer months,” Potzler says. “Ticks are most prevalent in wooded and deep grassy areas, which increases the odds of pets and humans being bit as the warmer months are when most people spend time outdoors.”

What time of year do ticks go away?

While tick bites are more common in the spring and summer, ticks don’t necessarily go way the rest of the year. “Depending on your location, ticks can survive all year long,” Potzler says. “If the temperature is above freezing, you can get tick activity,” Hottel says. “I’ve heard of ticks being active when there’s snow on the ground.”

Ticks don’t usually go away in the winter months. Instead, they do what’s called “overwintering,” says Doug Webb, a board-certified entomologist and technical manager for Terminix, where they typically choose one spot to spend the winter and are much less active than usual. “They mostly overwinter in leaf litter or other materials on the ground that can protect them from extreme cold,” Webb says. “Even snow has insulative properties that help protect overwintering ticks from the coldest weather.”

Still, Potzler says, “tick season typically ends when the temperature begins dropping below freezing.”

What time of year are ticks worse?

Again, you can technically be bitten by ticks year-round, depending on where you live. But you’re more likely to encounter them when the weather is warm. “Ticks thrive in warmer weather, so they are worse in the summer months,” Potzler says. They also tend to be particularly hungry in early spring when they’re done overwintering, Webb points out.

“In the early spring, there are many hungry ticks because of overwintering, so activity would be greatest then,” he says. “But throughout the summer and early fall, ticks will continue to multiply and remain a constant threat.”

How to stay safe from ticks

The CDC has a laundry list of advice online on how to protect yourself from ticks and tick bites. That includes:

  • Know where ticks can be
  • Treat your clothes and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin before you go into tick-infested areas
  • Use insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone
  • Avoid wooded or brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter when possible
  • Check your clothes for ticks after you go indoors and tumble-dry your clothes at a high heat for 10 minutes
  • Examine your gear and pets after you go inside
  • Check your body for ticks and shower as soon as you can after being outdoors

“Ticks can get into all sorts of cracks and crevices on your body, so do a thorough check,” Hottel says. “The sooner you catch the tick on you, the less chance it has of transmitting disease.”

From: Prevention US
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Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.