Ticks are always a concern on the trail so make sure you use bug spray with DEET, tuck your pants into your socks to keep them off your silky smooth legs, and check your body thoroughly when you get home. The black-legged tick (or deer tick, picture above) can carry Lymes Disease, so they’re the ones you really want to make sure aren’t creeping around under your skin. There was an article on the NYTimes Room For Debate Blog earlier this week written by five different professors explaining what we should know about ticks and their environment and the steps we can take to control them. Some interesting viewpoints by the authors are highlighted below:
1) There are more and more ticks each year. This is directly correlated to the fact that there are more and more deers each year. In Rhode Island, each deer produces about 450,000 larval deer ticks every year.
2) Virginia opossums play a prominent role in reducing human health to tick born diseases by grooming the ticks off killing them before they even have a chance to feed.
3) This tick species bites dozens of species of mammals, birds and reptiles — not just deer. And several recent studies in New York and New Jersey have found no connection between populations of deer and ticks. In fact, abundance of black-legged ticks is more closely tied to that of white-footed mice. Ticks feeding on mice survive well and are highly likely to become infected with the Lyme disease bacterium.