Allergy season is upon us again in early spring. It may be more accurate to say that the short time when pollen is not in the air has ended. In North America allergy season isn’t just spring, summer, or fall. There are plants using the air we breathe to conduct their reproductive cycle whenever it is not cold out.
Many plants reproduce without us noticing by dropping tough spores, convincing insects to participate, or just cloning themselves. About 12% of plants spread pollen on the wind in the hopes that it will land on a viable partner. Most of these plants are conifer trees, grasses, and weeds. Flowering plants rarely use the wind because the purpose of the flower is to attract pollinating insects. When pollen allergies arise depends on how far you live from the equator, but there is usually at least one plant species filling the air with pollen.
Different people are sensitive to different kinds of pollen. If you do suffer from allergies it is best to ask your doctor for an allergy test. By analyzing blood or by pricking the skin with tiny amounts of pollen, it can be determined which specific species of pollen you are allergic to. Armed with that information, you can then find out when and where the particular species that torments you is most likely to be, then prepare ahead of time.
When does spring allergy season end?
Conifers will be done in May, but grasses will continue to pollinate into the summer.
Farmers plant in the spring for the same reason most plants pollinate in the spring, to give new individuals all summer to be nourished by the sun. Flowers, fruit trees, and other plants are also pollinating during this time but primarily rely on attracting insects to their large and fragrant flowers that generally do not produce allergenic pollen. Flowering plants that do use the wind typically have small plain flowers with no scent.
These warming months of the early part of the year are most notorious for pollen production leading to entire cultural phenomena like Cedar Fever in Texas. Cedar trees around the Austin area release so much pollen that it has to be wiped off windshields like snow in the morning. People who are sensitive to cedar pollen usually flee the state for a month or two during the time of Cedar Fever.
Spring is the time that conifer trees like cedar, juniper, birch, pine, cypress and others pollinate and cause allergies in people who are sensitive. Unlike flowering trees and plants, conifers grow their pollen on cones that reach out past their foliage to catch the breeze and release visible clouds of pollen. They can also be recognized by having needles instead of leaves. By late spring, the forest floor around conifers is covered in empty pollen cones.
Grasses also flourish in mid-spring and when combined with conifer pollen can make this season the most intense allergy period for some people.
When does the summer allergy season end?
After the spring, grasses continue to pollinate through June. July usually has little pollen in the wind.
While the conifers and others have finished up, in the hot summer months fast growing grasses and weeds continue to release pollen into the air. Cereal crops like corn, rye, and oats are types of grasses and usually start pollinating using the wind in spring. Some grasses even release their pollen between the hours of 5am and 9am to take advantage of morning breezes so the first half of the day may have more pollen than the second.
Grasses tend to finish their pollination toward the end of June as the heat gets the most intense. July is often a reprieve from allergies as plants focus on growing and keeping hydrated. But by August, weeds start to become active.
When does the Fall allergy season end?
Weeds will spread pollen until the cold sets in, and many species of mold increase their reproductive cycles during this time.
If you are sensitive to ragweed, tumbleweed, pigweed, or any of the other weeds, this season may be challenging for you. In mid-August these weeds reproduce in the wind. True to their reputation, weeds crop up everywhere so are likely to be close by or growing in large colonies by roadsides or any unkempt patch of dirt.
In the fall trees also shed leaves on the ground and precipitation increases. This leads to the proliferation of mold, which spreads its spores on the wind. People with mold allergies may find their symptoms worse outdoors until the first frost.
When does the winter allergy season end?
Even though it is really only a problem for people with indoor allergies to dust, mold, or pets, and ends in March.
Yes, there is a winter allergy season, though it doesn’t have much to do with pollen. Ragweed and some other plants might continue to spread pollen through the winter, but most plants go dormant in the cold months while other allergenic creatures are active and well. Mold can continue to grow in warm places during winter. Since everyone spends more time indoors, exposure to indoor allergens from dust or pets can increase. For some of us, there is really no escape.
What can I do to prepare for allergy season?
Go see your doctor to be sure you’re up to date with them on what you are allergic to and what they recommend for you personally. They might have immunotherapies you are unaware of or are recently developed. If you use antihistamines, it’s a good idea to start using them before allergy season because once your body starts allergic reactions they will have limited effect.
Pollen seasons are lasting longer each year, so have a routine to keep it away. Change clothes immediately when you get home to reduce the amount of pollen coming into the house. Wear a mask and keep it clean so you don’t start the day with yesterday’s pollen on your face.
Air purifiers can also help to remove pollen from the air when it does inevitably enter your home. Be sure it’s got a high efficiency because pollen fragments can be as small as 30 nanometers or 0.03 microns. The PECO technology in Molekule air purifiers remove pollen and destroy the organic material they are made of. In fact, PECO technology destroys the widest range of pollutants compared to conventional air purifiers.