NSF-EID Lyme Gradient Project aims to understand the ecological drivers for the geographic variation in Lyme disease risk in eastern North America. We will test three key hypotheses concerning LD distribution using field, laboratory, and computer modeling studies.
This is the New River, flowing north out of North Carolina into Virginia. The woods alongside the river are heavily infested with blacklegged ticks carrying the Lyme disease pathogen ... this river valley has likely acted as a corridor for southwards spread of infected ticks from VA into northwestern NC.
The Tick App is a free app for smartphones, conceived to allow people living in high-risk areas for Lyme disease to participate in a 'tick exposure' study being run by researchers from Columbia University and the University of Wisconsin – Madison, members of the CDC Regional Centers for Excellence in Vector-Borne diseases. Funding for this study is being provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
Tick season is heating up in Tennessee, with lots of lone star ticks active in the woods and my dogs has been bringing home American dog ticks each evening. These tick species can spread spotted fevers and red meat allergy, so please take precautions!
Regarding Lyme disease risk, that disease is spread by blacklegged ticks ("deer ticks"). Adult blacklegged ticks are winter-active and most of them are already back down in the leaf litter by this time of year - they will reappear in late October. Over the summer, it's the nymphal life-stage of this tick species that you need to be watching for, and this is a friendly reminder that nymphs (see photo) are much smaller than many people realize!
Nymphal life-stage of the exotic, invasive longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) on the left, compared to a nymphal lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) on the right. Similar on first glance, but on second glance their mouthparts are distinctively different!
These guys were collected in June 2018 from vegetation in southwestern Virginia.