Every question I answered was about ticks. This one is a Lone Star Tick, not to scale (they are much smaller). Ticks are probably most well-known as carriers of Lyme disease, and populations are on the rise in New York. Changing weather and climate patterns could be partly to blame. Growing seasons are getting longer, and ticks have more time to develop. Range expansion is another likely factor that coincides with increasing deer and mice populations. These animals pick ticks up in one area and carry them to new un-infested locations.
Typically by August, it is too hot and dry for ticks to seek hosts by questing, an interesting behavior where they crawl up grass. Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass iPM Extension Support Specialist with the NYSIPM Community program, has not observed the usual summer decline in dog tick and black-legged tick questing behavior this year. Ticks like to quest when humidity is greater than 85%, and 2017 so far has been favorable.
Ticks are a concern because of their ability to transmit, or vector, human diseases. Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are often in the news, but others are also of concern, depending on tick species.
|Black-legged Ticks||Lyme, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan virus|
|Lone Star Ticks||Erlichiosis, STARI, and Tularemia|
|American Dog Ticks||Tularemia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever|
|Brown Dog Ticks||Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever|
Bryon Backenson is a scientist with the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at the NYS Department of Health. In 2016, he talked about ticks, vector-borne diseases and distribution at the 2016 New York State IPM Conference, Climate, Weather, Data: Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes. In his presentation, ‘Climate and Trends in Vector-borne Disease in New York‘, he summarizes recent changes in tick born illnesses throughout New York State. Overall, cases are on the rise in both rural and urban areas.
There are practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of vector-borne disease from ticks. The Community IPM Program offers several online resources including Understanding and Managing Ticks – A Guide for Schools, Child Care and Camps and What’s BuggingYou? – How to deal with ticks. NYSIPM and the Community IPM Program will be developing additional tick education and informational resources for New York State audiences in the coming year.
New England states have dealt with ticks for a longer period of time and many resources are available from the region. University of Rhode Island has developed an online resource called Tick Encounter. You can find information about tick identification and guides, getting your clothing professionally treated and more. The University of Connecticut Experiment Station has also published a Tick Management Handbook. The Centers for Disease Control also provides an overview of tick management.
Protection from biting insects and ticks is an important part of prevention. Choosing the right repellent is an important step in the process. Consumer Reports has a useful article that reviews insect repellents to help you choose the right product.