July 11, 2013

More about Virginia ticks

Female deer tick
Who knew? . . .

That Virginia now has three kinds of ticks?

That deer ticks are also called long-legged ticks?

That ticks only feed two or three times in their three year life span?

That ticks prefer denim?

Most Virginians know that deer ticks, famous for transmitting Lyme disease, are prolific here. But the American dog tick is also common, as well as the Lone Star tick that transmits ehrlichiosis. Dog ticks are larger and easily spotted on your body. But the deer tick is only as big as a poppy seed and can remain unnoticed for more than 24-36 hours, after which Lyme disease may be transmitted. The sooner you get these buggers off, the better!

The folks at Virginia Military Institute are enthused about a tick-luring robot that has been effective at attracting and killing up to 75 percent of ticks along trails in early trials. The robot drags a piece of denim fabric infused with an insecticide near carbon dioxide emitting tubes and the ticks run a marathon to it. They know that carbon dioxide means a meal!

Don't expect to see these robots in your big box stores anytime soon, but the VMI research is promising to those of us who hate spraying DEET on our bodies in order to enjoy a picnic or walk in the woods. The robot experiment only provides about 24 hour relief because more ticks keep emerging from the ground.