New England

Researchers Warn About Possible Heavy Tick Population This Summer

If you're itching to get outside, be warned: ticks are out, and could be in abundance this summer.

Researchers at Maine Medical Center's Vector-Borne Disease Lab have been conducting field surveys, and are finding that a healthy population of deer ticks have survived the winter.

"They are out in really good numbers this spring," said Vector Ecologist Chuck Lubelczyk. In one area in Cape Elizabeth, researchers were finding about one tick per square foot of woods.

Lubelczyk said deer ticks, which are the kind of ticks that can carry Lyme Disease, thrive in damp climates. If New England continues to have a rainy spring, the ticks could continue to increase their numbers.

He said ticks survived the winter for two reasons: first, this winter was relatively mild without a stretch of sub-zero temperatures that can kill ticks. Second, ticks can survive under a blanket of snow, which insulates them in the winter months.

In it's annual "Bug Barometer" report, the National Pest Management Association predicts a strong summer for mosquitoes and ticks in the northeast. The NPMA reports that snow melt and spring rain could create standing water, where the pests can thrive.

Researchers from Maine Medical Center say anyone spending time outdoors this spring should take precautions against ticks, and stay vigilant throughout the summer and fall.

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