Tiny Tick Can Cause Big Problems

This tiny arachnid is causing very serious problems. It’s a blacklegged tick or more commonly called a deer tick.

Here is the tick life cycle and you can see how small it is even as an adult but the nymphs and adult females can carry a variety of diseases.

So  ESF researcher Nick Piedmonte and his team are collecting ticks at 16 sites around Onondaga County to identify the species and how many.

"We’re collaborating on this project with the New York State Department of Health who help us test these ticks for a variety of tick-borne diseases anything from Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, human babesiosis and Powassan encephalitis," Piedmonte said.

The blacklegged tick picks up Lyme disease when it feeds on blood from infected small mammals and birds then can transmit it to humans on the tick’s second feeding. Deer are often blamed but they are really accessories.

"It is thought that deer provide a really nutrient-rich blood meal that allows the adult female to lay a really large number of eggs, anywhere from 2000 to 5,000," Piedmonte said.

The idea behind this project is to see what landscape changes or wildlife management might reduce the risk of tick-borne disease.

"That’s the hope that we could look at some of these results and make some suggestions to land managers and the general public on how to take care of either their properties or in land managers cases make alterations to public property," Piedmonte said.

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