Ask the Expert: East End Tick Talk

Trees have started changing colors and dropping leaves now that cooler weather has hit the East End. But there are other issues to be concerned with in your yard—ticks. For tips on protecting yourself and your yard, we turned to Fox Tree Service president Bart L. FuscoCertified Arborist and Registered Consulting Arborist—for some expert advice.

The Question: I live on the East End of Long Island—should I be worried about ticks in my yard now that it is getting cold?

The Answer from Bart L. Fusco at Fox Tree Service: The life cycle for each tick stage varies, and may take up to two years or more to complete.

2 Year Life Cycle of Deer Tick

In the fall and winter, the adult stage of these Arachnids (ticks are not insects but are closely related to mites, spiders and scorpions) look to feed on larger mammals, including humans. It has been shown that deer ticks can be active any time the temperature is above about 45° F.  So the short answer to your question is yes, ticks are active in cold months and you need to limit your risk of tick exposure.

On the East End the most common varieties are the deer tick, the brown dog tick and the wood tick.

Deer Tick
Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis)


Brown Dog Tick
Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

The deer tick and wood tick can transmit diseases to human beings: Lyme disease in the case of the deer tick and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the case of the wood tick. If you have a tick and want to have it identified, you can submit the specimen to the Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University for identification. A $25.00 identification fee applies per sample. They ask that you do not mail ticks in alcohol due to mail regulations.

To limit your exposure, wear light colored clothing (this will allow you to spot ticks before they crawl beneath your clothes). If you are wearing long pants, tuck them into your socks. Then spray with a repellent, which may not give full protection but will help reduce the tick’s attraction to you.

Permethrin is both a repellent and acaricide (tick killer) whereas DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) is only a repellent. I don’t recommend applying permethrin directly to the skin. However, you can gain the best type of protection by treating your clothing with a permethrin based insect/arachnid repellent and your skin with a DEET based repellent. You can learn more about permethrin and other pesticides at the EPA’s website. There are also other non-DEET and non-permethrin repellents labeled for use against ticks but they do not provide the same degree of protection.

Your yard can be treated with repellents or conventional pesticides throughout the growing season, if you suspect a tick infestation.

Have questions about ticks in your yard or caring for your trees this fall? You can contact Fox Tree Service in Suffolk at  631-283-6700, and in Nassau at 516-921-7111, or email [email protected] And don’t forget to send all your House & Home questions to [email protected]  

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