Acorn + Mouse = Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease Surge Predicted for Northeastern US: Due to Acorns and Mice, Not Mild Winter

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2012) — The northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring. And we can blame fluctuations in acorns and mouse populations, not the mild winter. So reports Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.

What do acorns have to do with illness? Acorn crops vary from year-to-year, with boom-and-bust cycles influencing the winter survival and breeding success of white-footed mice. These small mammals pack a one-two punch: they are preferred hosts for black-legged ticks and they are very effective at transmitting Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

“We had a boom in acorns, followed by a boom in mice. And now, on the heels of one of the smallest acorn crops we’ve ever seen, the mouse population is crashing,” Ostfeld explains. Adding, “This spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals — like us.”

For more than two decades, Ostfeld, Cary Institute forest ecologist Dr. Charles D. Canham, and their research team have been investigating connections among acorn abundance, white-footed mice, black-legged ticks, and Lyme disease. In 2010, acorn crops were the heaviest recorded at their Millbrook-based research site. And in 2011, mouse populations followed suit, peaking in the summer months. The scarcity of acorns in the fall of 2011 set up a perfect storm for human Lyme disease risk.

Black-legged ticks take three bloodmeals — as larvae, as nymphs, and as adults. Larval ticks that fed on 2011’s booming mouse population will soon be in need of a nymphal meal. These tiny ticks — as small as poppy seeds — are very effective at transmitting Lyme to people. The last time Ostfeld’s research site experienced a heavy acorn crop (2006) followed by a sparse acorn crop (2007), nymphal black-legged ticks reached a 20-year high.

The May-July nymph season will be dangerous, and Ostfeld urges people to be aware when outdoors. Unlike white-footed mice, who can be infected with Lyme with minimal cost, the disease is debilitating to humans. Left undiagnosed, it can cause chronic fatigue, joint pain, and neurological problems. It is the most prevalent vector-borne illness in the U.S., with the majority of cases occurring in the Northeast.

Ostfeld says that mild winter weather does not cause a rise in tick populations, although it can change tick behavior. Adult ticks, which are slightly larger than a sesame seed, are normally dormant in winter but can seek a host whenever temperatures rise several degrees above freezing. The warm winter of 2011-2012 induced earlier than normal activity. While adult ticks can transmit Lyme, they are responsible for a small fraction of tick-borne disease, with spring-summer nymphs posing more of a human health threat.

Past research by Ostfeld and colleagues has highlighted the role that intact forest habitat and animal diversity play in buffering Lyme disease risks. He is currently working with health departments in impacted areas to educate citizens and physicians about the impending surge in Lyme disease.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120316094452.htm

Bedbugs Traveling On Buses; You Can Run But You Can't Hide
Doctors in the United States should be aware of the risk of mother-to-child transmission of Chagas disease.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Article, Bed Bugs, Ticks & Fleas, Blog, Climate Change, disease, disease carrying insects, Dog Ticks, earth, environment, Health, insects, Massachusetts, Mice, Mice & Rats, mice control, New England, News, pests, Residential Pest Control, rodent control, science, scientific study, spring insects, Summer, Travel, trees
Related Topics: , , , , ,
Do you need these pests exterminated? Call A1 Today!

 

It’s Your Yard. Defend It. Against Mosquitoes And Ticks.

A1 Exterminators is now offering an Organic Mosquito and Tick Program.
“You can expect up to a 70-90% reduction in mosquito and tick populations around your home…. less pests and less risks of diseases”

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Removing Stink Bugs

If you find a stink bug in your home, chances are you will find more.  If you find one, do not squish it.  Vacuum up the stink bugs, and take note of spots where they crawl in or where you find concentrated numbers – these are likely entry points. Common places to look for emerging stink bugs are…

Flea Control
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Flea Control

You don’t want to have fleas in your home and we are sure your pets don’t want to have them on either. A1 Exterminators can keep those pests away.  Contact us for more information on flea control in your area.

flea-ad

Removing Stink Bugs
Bug Tip Tuesday - Wasp Traps
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Bug Tip Tuesday – Wasp Traps

Enjoy the back yard again by trapping wasps in a container with vinegar, salt and sugar.  By placing containers of this mixture around your yard, the wasps will be attracted to the sugar and killed by the salt and vinegar.waspsphoto

Flea Control
Lady Bug Jars
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Lady Bug Jars

Send the kids out looking for Ladybugs!  Have them make these cute ladybug jars and send them out hunting.51e17d6496108de4b502ff96df9621c2

Supplies:

  • Clear plastic container
  • Paint & brushes
  • Eyes
  • Black marker

Have the kids paint the lid to their container what ever color they want, and then make black ladybug dots on the top.  Glue…

Bug Tip Tuesday - Wasp Traps
Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Life Cycle of a Bed Bug

Female bedbugs can lay 200 to 250 eggs, which mature to adult stage within four to six weeks, meaning one or two bed bugs can turn into a massive infestation within a couple of months, if not caught and treated early. Bed bugs are resilient. Nymphs can survive months without feeding and the adults for more than a year….

Lady Bug Jars
Stinging Insects
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Get the Latests News for Pest Control in New England

Stinging Insects

Honey bees are often confused with aggressive stinging insects like yellow jackets and wasps.  Bees and other pollinators support the environment in a vital way.  A1 Exterminators can protect you against stinging insect and protects bees for our environment.

bee-ad

Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
Bug Tip Tuesday - Remove Ticks Quickly
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Browse A1 Pest Control

A1 Exterminators