Experts warn of potential 'tick apocalypse' as spring approaches

MILTON, Mass. — Tick experts are warning parents, outdoor enthusiasts and pet owners about what could be a “tick apocalypse” this spring.

A mosquito and tick control expert told FOX25 he’s never had as many calls for insects in people’s yards as he did this winter.

“We normally wouldn't start until mid-April,” Stephen Novick said. “To have things coming six, eight weeks earlier than that is definitely out of the ordinary.”

Novick attributes the early emergence to the warm winter. He said ticks don't normally die off in the winter, they just hibernate.

When the temperatures climb, they come out of hibernation looking for a host to latch on to say they can lay their eggs.

"They are up and still looking for a host, hoping something will walk by that they can latch onto," Dr. Thomas Mather, a tick expert at University of Rhode Island, said.

Wednesday afternoon, Mather found a large amount of ticks in the park near his office in just a few minutes. He said finding the eggs and newborns is much more difficult.

"You thought these ticks were hard to see, try finding a poppyseed-sized speck," he said.

The warm winter is just one factor in a tick explosion though.

Mather says because of the large amount of acorns last year, there has been an increase in the rodent population. That means more potential food for the baby ticks.

"It could be that almost the perfect storm of a lot of immature ticks and a lot of rodents. That would then spell a huge problem," he said.