There are a great many contributing factors to the increase in tick populations and the rapid spread of Lyme disease since the 90’s in Central Massachusetts and much of the Northeast United States. But did you know that the mouse population is a key indicator for predicting next year’s Lyme disease numbers?
While climate change and expanding deer populations are typically at the center of discussions around controlling and containing the spread of Lyme disease, mice are not typically a target. At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts, we use mice as a weapon against ticks, by providing them with treated nesting materials for their dens, to eliminate ticks that feed on them. Ecologists use mice too, as an early indicator for the following year’s Lyme disease risk.
2016 MOUSE PLAGUE
According to NPR, the Hudson River Valley saw a “mouse plague” in the summer of 2016. Mice are an early host for nymph ticks and the main transmitter of Lyme disease to ticks. Ticks love mice, so the more mice there are, the more Lyme there will be. “An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” said ecologist Rick Ostfield. He also confirmed the conclusion that a mouse plague last year is expected to mean a Lyme disease plague this year.
2017 LYME PLAGUE?
While ecologists are uncertain which areas of the Northeast will be most affected, they are encouraging anyone who lives in areas where Lyme and ticks are an issue to be extremely vigilant with their tick safety efforts this year.
At Mosquito Squad of Central Massachusetts, we encourage you to think back and consider whether you’ve noticed an uptick in mice around your property or neighborhood in the last year. That will be an easy indicator for you. We also urge you to participate in season-long tick control efforts at your home, as the CDC’s Kiersten Kugeler reminds us, “In the Northeast, most people catch Lyme around their homes.”
MILD WINTER LEADS TO EARLY TICK SEASON
“May is the month generally associated with Lyme season, but that should probably be backed up in years like this, to March.” Holly Ahern, scientific advisor to Project Lyme, reminds us in a recent Daily Gazette story about the mild winter’s effect on the tick population this summer.
With the anticipation of a risky Lyme season and a mild winter, Mosquito Squad of Franklin & Framingham is offering an early tick treatment now or in April (we usually don’t spray until May). Our treatment eliminates 85-90% of adult ticks on your property instantly and continues to work for up to 3 weeks. Also, we’ll install tick tubes in strategic places around your property to eliminate ticks feeding on and nesting with mice for long-term tick control. Call today for a free quote