We’ve previously shared with you the benefit the opossum adds to tick control. Now a new study creates a great case for mouse predators such as foxes, highlighting what their disappearance due to urban sprawl is doing to contribute to the climb in Lyme disease cases.
It is the time of year that new ticks are hatching and beginning to look for their first blood meal. Quite often here in the United States, they find that meal with the white footed mouse, an animal known to carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
WHAT IF TICKS FOUND THERE BLOOD MEAL SOMEWHERE ELSE?
However, what if the tick found this blood meal on other birds or mammals that didn’t carry these harmful diseases? Dr. Taal Levi, an ecologist at Oregon State University, tells the New York Times there has been a theory for quite some time that predators have a healthy impact in respect to tick-borne pathogens, however, the field work to prove it was challenging and time-consuming.
Despite the challenges, a recent study was completed observing how the presence of mouse predators such as foxes or stone martens can affect the number of ticks found on mice. Tim R. Hofmeester, a graduate student at Wageningen at the time of the study, placed cameras across the Dutch countryside to monitor the activity of these predators. Some were in lands that were protected, and some were in lands where foxes were heavily hunted. Over a two-year period, he also collected mice and counted the number of ticks and if they were infected with Lyme. In the areas where the number of predators was higher, he found fewer ticks on the mice and in the areas where the predators were lower he found more ticks to be infected. What didn’t seem to be affected was the actual number of mice. It seems that having the predators present possibly changed the habits and movement of the mice and made them less accessible to the ticks for their blood meal.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
“The takeaway is, we shouldn’t underestimate the role predators can play in reducing Lyme disease risk,” said Richard S. Ostfeld, a senior scientist at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.
Hunting and reducing natural habitats can be taking a toll, and public health officials might want to consider interventions to protect foxes and similar predators in the future. Beyond what the foxes can do, Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham have the tick control option that you can count on. Our barrier treatments and tick tube system will eliminate 85-90% of existing ticks in your yard, no predators needed. With Lyme disease on the rise, studies and new ideas are great, but fast results are important, and we have those for you. Call us today.