Our 400th tick!
Today, we received our 400th tick submission (actually, 401 to be exact). Does that sound like a large or a small number?
Although there's no real answer to that question, to me it seems like a pretty small number. At this time last year, when the Pet Tick Tracker ran through the Worms and Germs blog, over 1400 submissions had been received.
So, what might be going on this year? Here are some thoughts...
1. We're getting bored with ticks and no longer reporting - This is a common problem with passive surveillance in areas where tick populations are well-established and the burden is high. Citizens get so used to seeing ticks and tire of submitting the same findings (understandably!). Although this may be occurring in some areas, we are still in a time when tick populations are changing rapidly, with ongoing expansion, so I don't think this is the primary explanation. (**But, I'm still going to use this as an opportunity to encourage ongoing submissions, and sharing of our webpage with friends, family and colleagues!**)
2. We're getting really good at using tick preventatives - I hope this is the reason! This means that our furry friends are protected. However, the most common tick products on the market (isoxazoline class of parasiticides) do not prevent tick bites, but kill the tick as it begins to feed. Therefore, we may still see ticks on our pets, just not for very long.
3. 2018 is a 'low' tick year - Yes, this can happen, and this could be happening this year. It's too early to really know, but other methods of surveillance have been finding ticks in lower numbers, too. Unfortunately, this does not mean that risk is decreasing. We see inter-annual fluctuations in ticks populations due to a variety of ecological factors. One hypothesis is that because it was so dry in many areas of the country, the ticks (especially blacklegged ticks) were not as active. Blacklegged ticks are highly sensitive to low humidity, so if it's too dry, they will not be as active.
If you are finding ticks, it's so important that you continue to submit. The more information we have, the more we can learn about tick populations in our country.
Cheers, - KMC
P.S. Our maps have been updated again, so take a peak.