Saturday, January 30, 2021

Our new publication in PLOS BIOLOGY

Two significant factors contribute to the lower Lyme disease infection rates in the southeastern US. First, black-legged ticks in the north attach to and feed off mammals that are efficient at carrying and spreading the bacteria that causes the disease. Ticks in the south mostly attach to lizards that aren’t as efficient of disease carriers.

We also found that low tick densities at some southern sites, such as Tennessee and North Carolina, contributed to the low infection rates and low numbers of host-seeking ticks. This science can help researchers understand and predict the spread of Lyme disease bacteria and other vector-borne diseases. This new knowledge can help determine where human health threats could occur and inform management decisions to protect communities.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Know your nymphs: Asian longherned ticks vs. blacklegged ticks

Know your nymphs!: Asian longhorned ticks (Haemaphysalis longicornis) on the left, blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) on the right.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The New River: a corridor for tick expansion?

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.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Check out 'The Tick App' and participate in a tick exposure study!

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.

Click on their map to explore how many Tick App users are in your area!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tick season in Tennessee

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!

Be tick-safe out there!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Videos: blacklegged tick egg-laying and larval hatch

Ventral view of oviposition (timelapse)

Larval hatch (timelapse)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Lyme disease agent detected in blacklegged tick populations in eastern Tennessee.

Comparison of blacklegged tick surveys done in eastern Tennessee in 2006 (A) versus 2017 (B) ... Lyme disease agent newly detected in 4 counties!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Gulf Coast tick vs. American dog tick

Two adult males: a Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum) on the left; an American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) on the right.  Both collected in eastern Tennessee, July 2018.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Nymphal longhorned ticks, at first glance, look quite similar to nymphal lone stars.

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.