Flea & Tick Season 101

Stephanie Dube Dwilson

Doesn't it feel like flea and tick season never ends? That's because, in a sense, it doesn't. Outbreaks—triggered by factors including temperature and humidity levels—affect most of the United States throughout the year. Here's a quick primer so you're prepared.

Where and When Fleas and Ticks Roam

When is flea and tick season? It really depends on the region. Fleas and ticks cover the United States (every state reports activity from both pests), but some regions are much more populated than others. Both fleas and ticks become more widespread when humidity levels are between 50 and 90 percent.1 Fleas tend to prefer a temperature that is 70°F or greater, but ticks and fleas can still survive cold weather in the winter.

  • Fleas thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity—perfect parameters for both their activity and their reproduction. This is why fleas are found in balmy states like Florida throughout the year. Drier or colder regions, such as the Southwest and Midwest, experience lower (or even zero) activity during winter months.
  • In areas with deep frost, fleas may go dormant for the winter—but not if they've made their way indoors. Some sources suggest fleas can become more active in early fall; with dropping temperatures, they are more determined to find the warmth of a host.
  • While ticks thrive in regions with warmer, more humid weather, they are found in woods, shrubs, brush, and undergrowth in most areas of the country, regardless of the climate. They can even be found in forested areas during colder months. While they generally aren't active below 45°F, many survive winter by finding cover or hosts.2

Regardless of where you live, take extra precaution if your pet likes to go on hikes with you or likes to roam in fields or on farms, as the risk of a tick infestation increases.

Flea Life Cycle Stages

You may be wondering, “How do fleas survive the winter if they thrive around 70°F?" Whether outdoors underneath the snow or inside in unheated rooms, flea pupae (which enclose themselves in a cocoon until they emerge as full-grown adults) can survive dormant for many months. Adult fleas, larvae, and eggs can survive temperatures as low as 30°F for extended periods.3 When temperatures become warmer and vibration stirs their cocoons, adult fleas emerge.

How to Kill and Prevent Fleas and Ticks

As you can see, it's important to protect against fleas and ticks all year, whether it's hot or cold outside. The first step is to protect your pet. Try Adams Plus Flea & Tick Foaming Shampoo & Wash for Dogs & Puppies, which kills fleas, ticks, and lice and prevents flea eggs from hatching for 28 days. They also make a version for cats and kittens. Or consider Adams Plus Flea & Tick Spot On Treatment for Cats & Kittens or Adams Plus Flea & Tick Prevention Spot On for Dogs.

Protecting your pet isn't enough. You need to kill the fleas in your home and yard too. For your home, Adams Plus Flea & Tick Indoor Fogger can inhibit flea re-infestation for up to seven months. Or try Adams Plus Flea & Tick Carpet Spray. It also protects up to seven months and covers up to 2,000 square feet.

Treating your yard is vital. Adams Yard & Garden Spray kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and ants. It protects from fleas for up to four weeks.

What to Keep in Mind

  • Fleas and ticks affect most parts of the U.S. throughout the year.
  • They are most active in warm, moist climates.
  • Even adult fleas, larvae, and eggs can survive cold weather—as low as 30°F.

Fleas and ticks be a real problem for your pets. Not only can they cause itching and pain, but they can carry diseases too. Ticks, for example, can carry Lyme disease. That's why it's essential to take steps to protect your pets, both indoors and outdoors.

1. Giedt, Elisabeth J. "Flea Control." OSU Extension, February 2017, https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/flea-control.html.

2. Forrester, Evan. "'Ask Evan': 'Are Ticks Still Active During the Winter Months?'" Fox 43, 3 December 2019, https://www.fox43.com/article/life/ask-evan/ask-evan-are-ticks-still-active-during-the-winter-months/521-c334b393-006a-4f7c-bafa-2ca7d5923c62.

3. SBG-TV. "Colder Months Are Not the Time to Skip Flea and Tick Medication." Fox 45 News, 1 November 2019, https://foxbaltimore.com/features/for-pets-sake/colder-months-are-not-the-time-to-skip-flea-and-tick-medication.

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