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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

More Ticks

Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist

Last summer, I posted an item on this blog about Ticks In Kentucky. I listed some of the different kinds of ticks that live in the state, the diseases associated with those ticks, and how to defend yourself against ticks. I also addressed a question that we often receive in the Department of Entomology at UK: "Are tick populations increasing in Kentucky?"

Since then, we've seen even more evidence, both experimental and anecdotal, that tick numbers seem to be increasing. And while we have little scientific data from Kentucky, veterinarians and entomologists from states like Michigan, Missouri, and Oklahoma are convinced that tick populations are growing in number and that ticks are being found in new places. We still don't know exactly why the numbers are changing, but some scientists believe that growing deer populations, climate change, the suburbanization of the North American landscape, and even acorns may all be contributing factors.

I have not conducted any experiments on my own, but it seems like I see more ticks in Kentucky than I did a few decades ago. When I was a kid, I spent most of the 1980s wandering in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Rowan County. I was told by my parents to "watch for ticks." I would find a few every now and then. These days, when I visit the same parts of the forest, I will regularly pick off dozens of ticks. Sometimes, I find so many that I lose count, but I estimate the number to be about two hundred. When I find that many, the ticks are always very small: about the size of a grain of sand. Some people call these tiny ticks "seed ticks" or "turkey ticks." These small ticks are the immature stage of the Lone Star Ticknone of the other ticks in our area regularly attach themselves to humans while they are in the immature stage.

Luckily, these tiny tickswhich seem to be the most common in our area, and which are the ones that I run into almost exclusively in the woodsare not known to be associated with Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or any other major pathogens. (Identification can be tricky, though, so any tick should be removed as soon as possible.)

So, tick numbers may be on the rise. But there's one thing that hasn't changed: tick-safety! It is fairly easy to protect yourself, your family, and your pets from tick-borne illnesses, and you can read all the details in our online factsheet: Ticks and Disease.

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