If anyone knows ticks in Maine, it’s the researchers at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s tick lab. They’ve been studying the eight-legged disease carriers for 26 years, learning about the deer tick’s emergence and rise to prevalence in our state.
Now they’re sharing their expertise through a new website, TicksInMaine.com.
“This new website is specific to Maine and Mainers and focuses on prevention of tick-borne disease,” Dr. Peter Rand, the lab’s senior investigator, said in a news release.
Rand warned Mainers back in the mid-1980s that the deer tick was crawling its way to Maine, according to MMC. Sigh, those were the days.
But it also features information I’d never seen before. For example, these photos of ticks that, fair warning, may haunt your dreams tonight.
Besides the photos, the site explains how the professionals seek and destroy ticks. Along with spraying both synthetic and plant-based acaricides (pesticides that kill arachnids, such as ticks), they’ve devised ways to covertly apply repellent to mice and deer. Ticks catch a ride on those critters, disseminating much further than they can crawl alone.
One method uses a bait box to lure mice inside, where a small wick treated with the pesticide fipronil “lightly brushes the mouse, gently applying a very small amount,” the website states. The fipronil has almost no environmental impact and doesn’t harm the mouse or other animals. Studies have shown this approach leads to a 60-80 percent decrease in ticks after one year, and a 90-100 percent reduction after two years, according to the site.
Another device attracts white-tailed deer with a bin of corn. As the deer snack, their “ears, heads, necks, and shoulders rub against vertical rollers that are treated with acaricide. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricide to other parts of their bodies,” the website states.
These “four-posters” are effective, but come with a few caveats: They’re expensive, requite regular maintenance, and several states ban them due to concerns that congregating deer will promote the spread of infectious diseases.
That’s a sample of what I learned on TicksInMaine.com. The more knowledge, the better in the battle against tick-borne diseases.