As if any aren’t, right? We are talking about the Lone Star tick. The Lowell Sun recently spoke with Dr. Stephen Rich, director of the Laboratory of Medical Zoology at UMass Amherst, where they have been collecting ticks throughout Massachusetts since 2006. He says that in the 10 years of tick collecting, 70 of the 81 total Lone Star ticks have been collected since 2014. That’s over 88% in the last 2 years. Dr. Virginia Sinnott, the senior staff veterinarian for the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, began to notice an upswing in the Lone Star Tick population at about the same time.
Why is the Lone Star tick particularly nasty? In Lowell, we are used to the deer tick, but Lone Star ticks are more aggressive. Their bites hurt! They also move in large groups, have better eyesight, and move about three times more quickly than other species of ticks. We might call them more evolved than the average ticks we are used to.
With New Ticks Come New Illnesses
Until now Lowell tick control has focused on preventing Lyme disease. Lyme is not a problem with the Lone Star tick, but it certainly comes with a handful of diseases of its own. Anaplasmosis, STARI, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can all be contracted by a bite from a Lone Star tick. Review the CDC’s website for in-depth descriptions of all tick-borne illnesses including symptoms and treatment.
There are some strange issues with Lone Star tick bites as well. There are proteins found in a Lone Star tick’s saliva that mirror those found in red meat and cat dander. Because of this, a bite could cause a lifelong allergy to cats or red meat. No steaks for you! (Is it just me or is there a bit of humorous irony in the fact that a tick with the same nickname as Texas could make you allergic to meat? Although not so funny if it happens to you!)
Why Here in Lowell, Mass?
Dr. Sinnott points out that the areas seeing the largest initial increase in Lone Star ticks are areas with more tourist activity. People from the South are bringing them North, but once they are here, it is easy for them to latch on to anything and travel all over the state. That certainly includes right here in Lowell Massachusetts. Warmer, shorter winters and climate change also make for a rise in tick numbers. The north has simply become more adaptable for this type of tick.
Ticks, in general, are a growing problem for Central Massachusetts, and the addition of the Lone Star tick adds to our need for diligent protection and prevention. Mosquito Squad of Chelmsford & Cambridge wants to help you start enjoying your yard again. We also provide tick barrier and tick tube treatments that can eliminate 85-90% of ticks on your property! We look forward to hearing from you today!