Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Blacklegged Tick in Kentucky

Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomology

A few months ago, we posted a guide to the three most important tick species that are found in Kentucky. Since then, we have learned that one of those ticks, the so-called blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, may be becoming more common in the south, and that several of these ticks have been found on humans in the eastern part of the state. This information was reported by UK Extension Entomologist Dr. Lee Townsend in a recent article in the Lexington Herald Leader.

These findings are significant because the blacklegged tick is the species that is most closely associated with Lyme Disease, a serious illness that has become prevalent in the northeastern United States. The good news for Kentuckians is that very few of these ticks have been found on humans in our state. Also, recent research suggests that—while blacklegged ticks are actually fairly common in the south—they are less likely to spread Lyme Disease than they are in the north. This might be because blacklegged ticks prefer different hosts in the South (reptiles) than they do in the North (mammals). You can read more about this study here, and here.

So the risk for Lyme Disease in Kentucky remains very low. Nevertheless, this is a great reminder for anyone who spends time outdoors: ticks are out there, and they can spread diseases. And not just Lyme Disease. As we mentioned in our previous post, the other, more common tick species (such as the American Dog Tick and the Lone Star Tick) can also transmit diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, that can be just as serious as Lyme Disease. The one difference with the blacklegged tick: these ticks are active in cool months, so if you are outdoors in the fall and winter, it is still a good idea to practice tick-safety.  

For detailed tips about how to keep yourself safe from ticks, read our UK Entomology Factsheet, Entfact-618.

For more information about Lyme Disease: http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/

And Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: http://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/

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