Wild Green Yonder: Ecotone Treatments
The NCR trail is often packed with active folks biking, running and walking their way down the former railroad track. It is a slim trail that winds its way from Maryland to Pennsylvania, covered in soft gravel and sided by green undergrowth. The Big Gunpowder Falls River meanders along the track-trail, beckoning people in large tubes to slowly float downstream.
Among the others on the trail, ticks will inevitably quest on the lush ferns and grasses, perched on their third and fourth pair of legs, their front legs outstretched, waiting for the opportunity to climb onto a passing host. It is something to consider before going out into the aptly named wild.
Unlike mosquitoes, who obviously prefer the dim light and cooler temperatures of dawn and dusk to feed, the questing behavior of ticks according to researchers at Washington State University is not affected by temperature or light cycles. In other words, the risk factor for a tick attack remains the same throughout the day. Ticks are better protected in an environment of high humidity, which suggests more active behavior on muggy days.
In the United States, research shows that ticks are responsible for 77% of vector-borne diseases as of 2016. These diseases impact the health and well-being not only of humans, but also pets, wildlife and livestock. Among the three families of ticks (Ixodidae, Argasidae and Nuttalliedae), the hard ticks of the Ixodidae family represent the highest number of species and the highest transmission rate of disease.
While hard ticks quest, which is a more passive form of host selection, they may also “ambush” prey by actively seeking, or hunting, a host. Ticks have a variety of tools at their disposal to identify prey, including their eyes and their Haller’s organ which recognizes heat, humidity and odors. Once attached to a host, the tick gorges on their blood in their parasitic quest for sustenance, required to take them through their four life stages. This exchange transmits diseases in humans, such as Lyme disease.
While you may not consider your yard the wild green yonder, it is a zone where ticks may rest and quest comfortably. An estimated three-quarters of Lyme disease cases are directly related to activities around the home. It makes sense, then, to opt preventive tick and mosquito control as a nuisance abatement measure. A free phone or site consultation can give you more information about this important service including our ecotone strategy.
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