“Despite the long, cold winter, ticks are abundant in New York State and surrounding areas,” according to Paul Curtis, coordinator of Cornell University’s Wildlife Damage Management Program and associate professor of Natural Resources. “The persistent snow cover helped insulate overwintering ticks in the leaf litter.”
While weather and other conditions may be factors, the size of tick populations are largely driven by the numbers of mammals that they feed on, especially deer and mice.
“Black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) — also known as deer ticks — are correlated with deer abundance, and high local deer populations have contributed to a rise in reported Lyme disease cases in people and pets,” said Dr. Curtis, who recently provide tips about how to avoid ticks and tick bites in a press release.
“It is very important to remove ticks as soon possible, because they must be attached for approximately 24 to 36 hours to transfer pathogens to humans or pets while feeding,” he said. “Pet owners should consult their veterinarian, as Lyme disease can cause severe problems for dogs.”
“Deer fencing is expensive, but it may be practical for some high-risk areas such as parks and playgrounds frequented by children and pets. The 4-Poster device, a type of deer bait station that controls ticks as they feed, does dramatically reduce tick populations over a two-to-three-year period.”
Other tick prevention tips include:
• Wear light-colored clothing with long pants and sleeves.
• Tuck your pants into your socks, and your shirt into your pants.
• Use spray repellents as directed on the label.
• Walk along the center of trails and avoid contact with shrubs or brush.
• Conduct frequent clothing checks, and carefully inspect your body for ticks.
• Once home, dry clothing on the highest temperature setting for 10 minutes to kill any ticks.
• Keep pets from tick infested areas and check them before entering the house.
• Mow lawns and remove lawn debris and leaf litter.
• Discourage rodents by reducing cover (e.g., wood piles) and food sources (e.g., bird seed, compost).
• Move lawn furniture and children’s toys away from the yard edges and wooded areas.
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