One benefit of the Australian heat wave

Story submitted by Eric Worrall

At least one Australian is not unhappy at the country’s recent hot spell. The following is a picture of something I pulled off a private part of my anatomy earlier this year.

Yes, it’s a paralysis tick, Ixodes Holocyclus

But I haven’t been bitten since, despite living in the Australian bush. Why? Because the recent hot spell has killed most of the ticks.

Ticks can’t survive long dry spells which are hotter than 32c:

Humid conditions are essential for survival of the paralysis tick. Dry conditions, relatively high (32°C) and low (7°C) temperatures will kill all stages after a few days. An ambient temperature of 27°C and high relative humidity is thought to be optimal for rapid development (Clunies-Ross, 1935).


The recent week or so of dry 40°C+ temperatures in Australia has disrupted their breeding cycle.

An added benefit, apart from the yuck factor, is the reduced risk this year, of myself and my fellow Australians catching one of the awful diseases associated with tick bites, such as Queensland Tick Typhus.

Global warming? Bring it on.


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Derek Walton

James Delingpole writes about a similar subject:


Another species threatened by climate change.

Our dog is overjoyed at the news.

Not to mention the lack of those pesky mossies. Love this warm dry weather….hardly a heat wave. Just summer in Oz.

Is that similar to Lime Disease which we have from deer ticks in Pennsylvania?

This reminds me of one of the famous quotes of a Dutch footballstar Johan Cruijff: Every disadvantage has its advantage; in Dutch: ieder voordeelt heeft zijn nadeel.


I had a full Anaphylactic reaction to my first tick bite – within seconds my whole body was covered with blister welts, I eliminated everything from my body from both ends at once and I couldn’t breathe – thought I was going to die.
The second time was less of an event fortunately.
So this is good news 🙂


That one is gonna tick off the warmists.

Doug Huffman

The picture is of the ventral surface, showing the anus, suggesting the anal groove, showing the genital groove and suggesting the genital pore.
There are studies from Palearctic Eurasia suggesting that Ixodes in general are not so affected by temperature. It is known that dessication is the major abiotic stressor and that Ixodes have evolved strategies to maintain hydration. Starvation is the major biotic stress. It may be that the increase in Growing Degree Days will increase the subsequent prevalence.
The effect of diapause is significant.
The spread of Ixodes north and west in the Nearctic is attributed to climate change moderating the conditions for long distance transport vectors. Locally, Ixodes prevalence is rapidly increasing despite our -30°C – +30°C (-22°F – +86°F) temperature range.
Our local Ixodes scapularis, Blacklegged Deer Tick is known be a biological vector and tick paralysis from toxins is just starting to be reported. In the local population of 700 souls there have been a half-dozen recent cases of Lyme Disease from Ixodes tick bites.

En Passant

I was bitten twice in Kings Park in Perth last December (they leave a permanent scar), but fortunately i suffered no side effects, not even a tic


It is a pity the heat conditions won’t remove another form of paralysis tick that has invaded Tasmania this week.
The IPCC with Dr Rajendra Pachauri are holding a conference in Hobart at present.
Here is a collection of news items with video from our ABC

Doug Huffman

@JPP: No, tick paralysis is not similar to Lyme Disease. LD is caused by a spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, while TP is due to a neurotoxin that appears common to ticks and apparently particularly to Ixodes, the hard-body ticks. I. scapularis carries a number of other diseases. I. holocyclus may also be discovered to do so.
The great resource that Mr. Worall’s story brings is the illustration and comparison of the sizes of I. holocyclus, the Paralysis Tick, as at the Wikipedia article. Ticks are TINY, but the typical FedGov illustration magnifies them to where they might be seen crawling up ones leg. Not so! I say that the characteristic dimensions of egg and larva are ½mm, nymph is 1mm and unfed adult is 2mm. Consider that a gravid female lays ~3,000 eggs (limits their size due to spherical packing considerations), a larva has not yet fed, only as the larva matures to nymph is there a doubling and from nymph to adult.

hi Eric. My wife asked after you yesterday and wondered how you were getting on in Australia. I’ll tell her it is all going tickety-boo.


This is not a heatwave, not in an Aussie summer! The media can spin it all they want, but its not a heatwave, hot yes, but that is all!


A paralysis tick.
Which part of your private anatomy was paralysed!


“Yes, it’s a paralysis tick, Ixodes Holocyclus”
This should read …. Ixodes holocyclus.


That explains why our cats and dogs kept bringing in ticks all through the summer, and even have the occasional one now. We didn’t have a particularly hot summer and this winter has been fairly mild and very wet. Of course the fact that we are surrounded by sheep doesn’t help much either!

We’ve been having wet conditions for five years, last summer being very cool as well as moist. When I’ve been working my bamboo grove’s fringe to expand it, I’ve come back with heaps of ticks from contact with lantana, tea tree etc. With the drought since last autumn, it will be interesting to see if the tick population is down. Trouble is, there’s hardly any new bamboo, so no reason to work in there. I must say, I’ve had no ticks just from getting about the paddocks – not a single one for months, now you mention it.

Philip Shehan

Great. Makes up for the deaths from extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl -the Murray-Darling river system, etc etc. Of course we can always move to sunny Siberia.

Lena Hulden

The size of the Ixodes population depends mainly on the possibility of getting the bloodmeal. Every stage need a bloodmeal but Ixodes ricinus can have a lifecycle of 4-6 years and an individual can survive one year without blood. The female of Ixodes ricinus lays 2000 eggs before she dies. If 2 survives to adult the population is stable, if 4 survives the population is doubled. The huge increase of roe deer and white-tailed deer populations in Finland has caused an increase in the number of ticks. Bambi is a good blood restaurant for ticks.
I have made experiments with washing of ticks in washing machines. They survive washing programs with +40°C with different washing powder.
The funny thing is that in Sweden Ixodes ricinus is reported to react on global warming. This happens, however, only along the Swedish coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. On the Finnish side of the coast there have been tick populations much further to the North already in the 1970’s when a surwey was done.


J. Philip Peterson says:
January 17, 2013 at 4:17 am
Is that similar to Lime Disease which we have from deer ticks in Pennsylvania?
Don’t think so, totally different virus. And it is called Lyme disease, after Lyme in Connecticut. However, I think I did have lime disease once, after drinking too many daiquiris….

Philip Shehan says:
January 17, 2013 at 5:56 am
Great. Makes up for the deaths from extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl -the Murray-Darling river system, etc etc. …
The fires might have been less severe, if over zealous Australian authorities stopped putting people in jail when they try to cut a few firebreaks on their own land.

oebele bruinsma says:
January 17, 2013 at 4:19 am
Every disadvantage has its advantage
the teachings of buddha.
every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction.
the law of unintended consequences.

Silver Ralph

DaveA says: January 17, 2013 at 3:49 am
Another species threatened by climate change.
Every second TV ad in Holland is a ‘save the animals’ ad. Normally involving lovable seals, cute kittens, and darling donkeys. Somehow, I don’t think they will start a new campaign with ‘save the ticks and parasites’.
But this observation goes to the root of the Green Environmental con-trick. It is all about emotional manipulation and emotional blackmail, and nothing to do with science.

Doug Huffman

Please, neither Lyme Disease not Tick Paralysis have anything to do with viruses (virii). Lyme Disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is arguably curable. Tick Paralysis is caused by a neurotoxic chemical that is ‘cured’ by removal of the tick source.

Mickey Reno

I imagine the mosquito population may be a bit diminished as well, and the benefits of that may be incalculable. But I’m sure these nasty little blood-sucking species have survived many hot and cold spells, and will bounce back quickly. If they didn’t have such survival strategies, they’d be extinct already.
The main point here should be that when we’re talking about a variable climate, it’s unfair to count only up the negative effects (and here I mean the actual effects, not the exaggerated fear-mongering propaganda peddled by so many in the field of climate “science”) of any change, while completely discounting the positive.

Doug Huffman

It is correct that laundering clothes has little effect on Ixodes, beyond mere dilution. Sun drying laundry, as on a clothesline is very effective due to the low humidity dessicating the tick with no ability to rehydrate.
Permethrin impregnated clothing is de-ticked by laying it out on pavement, killing the ticks and avoiding a washing that limits the effective lifetime of Permethrin.


Philip Shehan says: January 17, 2013 at 5:56 am
Great. Makes up for the deaths from extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl -the Murray-Darling river system, etc etc. Of course we can always move to sunny Siberia.
Don’t get yourself all in a tizzy over nothing. Another hot Australian summer, and what else is new under the sun. The fact is, global warming is entirely beneficial, bringing milder winters rather than hotter summers, and and higher humidity with higher rates of precipitation.
How do we know this? Well, the GCM’s tell us so. I’m sure that you know about GCM’s.
But we have a better source of information than the GCM’s. We have the Climatic Optimum, aka Holocene Optimum, which shows all of this to be true.
By the way, I hear that Australia is going to get a new Government this year. Good for Australia.

michael hart

Over the years, many visitors the UK have commented that it is frequently cool, cloudy, and rainy.
The BBC has just noticed this, and has recently started worrying about the effect of rain on British insects.

Willam Abbott

We had some severe fires here in Northern Nebraska this summer. The government will pay you to cut fire-breaks on private land. Thinning projects are encouraged because you can’t put the fires out once they get started in our canyons. The cedars create all this ladder fuel – the whole forest burns, its unstoppable. Our extreme dryness and heat this summer facilitated an explosion of deer mites (midges) and we lost 30% of our deer herd. Hit the older males the hardest.

Small question according to the UK Met a hotter climate means more rain because the Air holds more moisture.
So if its hotter in Australia has there been more Rain in Australia then?

“…extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl…”
I don’t get it. Where do these people live? I’ve experienced three relatively wet, fire-free periods {longer than a couple of years) in Eastern Oz, the latest being from 2007 to 2012. Where or when was this theoretical Australia where the climate was “stable” and co-operative? Certainly no time in the half century between the Fed drought and the Big Wet of 1950. So where or when was this theoretical Australia? Essentially, we live in the jaws of drought. Those jaws stopped moving during the 1970s, but there have been very few such extended periods of good rainfall.
What place or period are these people talking about?

Doug Huffman

Nearctic Ixodes prefers edge lands, the transitions from perhaps manicured lawn to un-manicured and from un-manicured to low brush, high bush and then to scrub. The female needs a littered surface for her larva to survive. The new larva prefer shorter grass/weeds, 50mm-100mm for questing, the nymphs quest a bit higher and the adults as high as a meter.
These heights represent a significant energy drain as the tick must retreat to the humid litter to rehydrate and back up to questing height. Most of a tick’s lifetime travel is up and down for questing and rehydration. Horizontal transport is almost entirely by hosts, at the extreme by incidental host birds.
Ceteribus paribus, each stage dies after about 100 days without feeding unless it can escape into diapause (which is NOT hibernation). Death is due to starvation or dessication. There are no significant predators.

Some details were probably a bit more than I needed to know. Still it was informative. And I have made a mental note for future reference. Never discuss the weather with an Australian before dinner.

Steve Keohane

Here in western Colorado, I usually see 3-4 ticks per week on my clothes or skin, in the late spring/early summer. By mid-June they are usually scarce, since it stops raining by the end of May. I have seen zero ticks since 2010, I assume due to dry spring conditions. Don’t miss them, it’s just interesting.

Doug Huffman

Depending on the particular species, ticks have two integrated peak activity times. Integrated over the three feeding stages. One in spring and another in the fall. The scarcity is not due to lack of rainfall. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
I. scapularis, the Blacklegged Deer Tick requires significant time attached and feeding to transfer the spirochetes from the midgut, where they reside, to the mouth parts for injection with the excess fluid returned from a blood meal. A tick process vastly more fluid than just the good parts that it consumes. The attached time rate of infection is typically insignificant until 24 hours have elapsed and, again typically, not high at 48 hours.


Philip Shehan says:
January 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

Great. Makes up for the deaths from extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl -the Murray-Darling river system, etc etc. …

There is nothing like doing a little research and your comment was nothing like doing a little research.
The 1967 Tasmanian fires
In 1967 southern Australian was experiencing drought conditions. On 7 February, 264,270 hectares were burnt in southern Tasmania in just five hours. Of the 110 fires burning that morning, the worst was the Hobart fire . The fire made its way over Mt Wellington and encroached on the city’s western suburbs. Sixty-two people died, and 1,400 homes and other buildings were destroyed. At the time, it was the largest loss of life and property in Australia from fire on any single day in Australia’s history.
A different perspective on bush fires in Australia. Watch the regrowth of vegetation after the fires.
AS ANOTHER BUSHFIRE SEASON begins across Australia, it is all too easy to see fire as a dangerous force, something to be avoided at all costs. But as a recent NASA animation featuring Australian bushfires over the last decade illustrates, fire is a consistent feature of the Australian landscape.
“In all Australian landscapes, fire has an integral role to play in organising vegetation, biodiversity, and other functions of the landscape,” says Professor Ross Bradstock, a fire ecologist who directs the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong. “It’s part of the furniture.”
Let’s tell the burning truth about bushfires and the ALP-Greens coalition


Jim south London says:
January 17, 2013 at 6:56 am
Small question according to the UK Met a hotter climate means more rain because the Air holds more moisture.
So if its hotter in Australia has there been more Rain in Australia then?
Well our CSIRO in Oz says hotter temperature due to warming will therefore create dryer conditions. Would seem both agencies make up things on the run.
Interesting though is that after the CSIRO pronounced dryer conditions during the naughties drought it rained and rained with wide spread flooding. They then changed to say dryer some parts and wet in other parts. Now the heatwave is on there back to the dryer prediction. They really don’t have a clue in my opinion on the climate issue.
But to be fair the CSIRO do have some brilliant minds and do a lot of good work – well they did invent Wi-Fi didn’t they. But as far as “climate change” is concerned its just government propaganda.


On this side of the pond, about the “tickiest” place I’ve ever lived is northeastern MN. Worst time of the year is early summer and, as apparently opposed to our Australian cousins, dry conditions were correlated with higher tick numbers. Grassy areas were the worst. I could take a walk through a particular area for 15-20 minutes, and emerge with 50+ ticks adhering to my pants, socks, and boots. Despite brushing them off before entering my truck, I would be picking ticks the entire 45 minute ride back to the office, the rest of the day in the office, and that evening at home.

Doug Huffman

A brief Ixodes bibliography. My go to guy is Howard S. Ginsberg (then) of University of Rhode Island and author of my favorite Ecology and Environmental Management of Lyme Disease. From his extensive bibliography I learned of V. Belozerov on ‘Diapause and biological rhythms in ticks’. D. E. Sonenshine shines too.
i also learned to hate paywalled academic publications.


Doug Huffman.
Obviously you are very knowledgeable about ticks, and I daresay, other insects.
Thank you for taking the time to educate us a little on them.

Gail Combs

Doug Huffman says:
January 17, 2013 at 9:21 am
….i also learned to hate paywalled academic publications.
Yes nothing like a really tantalizing Abstract and then finding the paper is paywalled! GRRRRrrrrr

Gail Combs

For what it is worth Guinea Fowl are great for tick/insect control. Good watch dogs too but dumber than dumb when it comes to cars.


For what it’s worth this heat is unbearable with or without ticks. That doesn’t make it extreme. Nor does it make it partially or wholly caused by AGW. It just makes it unbearable.


Philip Shehan says:
January 17, 2013 at 5:56 am
Great. Makes up for the deaths from extreme heat, more deaths and damage from catastrophic bushfires, fires, the drying out of Australias food bowl -the Murray-Darling river system, etc etc. Of course we can always move to sunny Siberia.


ColdOldMan says: January 17, 2013 at 8:03 am
Good post. This is what’s needed when the global warmers start their panic-peddling

Doug Huffman

In re Guinea fowl; a retort, no better. “Guineafowl May Spread, Not Halt, Fever-Bearing Ticks in Turkey – Nov. 29, 2012 — The country Turkey raises and releases thousands of non-native guineafowl to eat ticks that carry the deadly Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus. Yet research suggests guineafowl eat few ticks, but carry the parasites on their feathers, possibly spreading the disease they were meant to stop, says a Turkish biologist working at the University of Utah.(
A neighbor made his chickens as effective as his Guinea fowl when I gently asked about their tick predation.
Chapter 7 of Ginsberg’s ‘Ecology’, Vector Management to Reduce the Risk of Lyme Disease, has a section on ‘Predators, Parasitoids, and Pathogens’ that includes, “Whether these birds [domestic gallinaceous] might serve as spatially focal predators of engorged or questing adult Ixodes, or might themselves serve as hosts to the ticks, similarly must be evaluated.” I suggest that Guinea fowl predation on ticks is anecdotal.
The demonstrated best Ixodes scapularis tick control are Tick Tubes by Damminix. They are paper tubes stuffed with Permethrin soaked batting and distributed as Peromyscus leucopus nesting material. They are expensive, costing from ~$5 each in small quantities to $2.50 by the thousand.

Doug Proctor

Now that the land is burned, do Australians get carbon credits for replanting?
Sounds like a no-brainer ….

Philip Shehan

Excuse me if I don’t laugh to much. I had the experience of sheltering people in my house oned day as 75 people died in a firestorm that swept across 2 states, lukily for us the wind changed direction when the fire front was about a mile away.
And Eric Worrall: neither that catastrophe, nor the fires of 2009 which killed 173 people here in the state of Victoria had anything to do with a lack of fire breaks. The winds were so ferocious the fires jumped multilane highways and embers were carried for kilometres.

Dr Burns

No benefit for Sydney’s tick infested spots. Our much hyped “heat wave” only yielded a single 40+ day, on Jan 8 (42.3) then a mere 31.2 on 12th. Record set in 1994 at 45.3.
It hasn’t stopped the ticks, nor has it stopped the alarmists claiming this summer is “proof” of global warming.