There's lots of talk about "flea and tick season," (in certain circles) but depending on the climate where you live, fleas and ticks may be a year-round concern. Discovering the conditions that lead to an optimal environment for fleas and ticks -- like warm temperatures and overgrown bushes -- can help you know when and how to ramp up your preventative measures. And don't miss our flea and tick maps and alerts.
Both fleas and ticks flourish in warm climates. The ideal temperature for these parasites is within the 70 to 85 degree range, but they can live in cooler and warmer temperatures as well. For many states, the most prevalent seasons for fleas and ticks are the spring and summer, or roughly from May through September. For southern and southwestern states, the flea and tick season typically occurs year round.
Extremely high heat will destroy fleas and ticks, as well as their eggs. If you’re suffering from a flea infestation, washing and drying your pet’s bedding on high heat is a helpful eradication method. Similarly, after being outside in a tick-friendly area, laundering your clothes is a good way to destroy any ticks that may be clinging to your outfit. (Note that ticks have been found to live even after a cycle through the washing machine, so be sure to also dry clothing on high heat.)
Once the temperature falls below freezing for several days in a row, adult fleas will die. However, for fleas in a different stage of the life cycle -- the eggs, larva, and pupa -- the cold weather is not destructive. The non-adult fleas will go dormant, and when temperatures rise again, those fleas will begin to look for a host. Similarly, ticks are only dormant, not dead, when the weather is below freezing. If the temperature rises in the wintertime, be cautious of tick bites just as you would be in the summertime.
Ticks and fleas require a high humidity level, ideally around 70 percent.
The moisture in the air is a matter of survival for ticks: it allows the larval ticks to mature into nymphs. During the nymph stage, ticks feed upon hosts for the first time. Tick eggs and larvae are frequently found in moist organic matter like leaves and brush. As adults, ticks can be found on leaves, bushes, and taller plants. The ticks climb upward seeking potential hosts; when they grow dehydrated, the ticks crawl back down.
Humidity also plays a key role in fleas’ survival: the moisture is necessary for eggs to hatch and for fleas to progress through the life cycle.
Woods, Grass, and Brush
Ticks generally live in the woods, where they can easily find warm-blooded hosts like rabbits, squirrels, and deer. Fleas tend to like dark spaces around homes, like the crawl space or under bushes. Suburban and rural areas are quite comfortable for both fleas and ticks -- you could easily catch fleas in a dog park, and ticks can be present in gardens if there are deer around.
As larva, fleas prefer dark cracks and crannies but as fleas progress through the life cycle, their main goal becomes seeking out a warm-blooded host.
Both fleas and ticks are sensitive to extreme heat and a lack of moisture. Eliminate shaded areas around your home -- keep bushes well trimmed and mow grass frequently. This will lead to dried out soil and direct sunlight, which is an inhospitable environment for fleas and ticks.
Residents of warmer climates are unfortunately living in ideal zones for fleas and ticks. Preventative measures -- like applying monthly medications to pets, checking for ticks after being outside, and landscaping outdoor areas thoughtfully -- are recommended to ward off tick bites and flea infestations.
More Flea and Tick Control Advice
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.