tick

John Soltes – Tick Populations Booming

As climates change, ticks spread farther north, harming dogs and humans

A few weeks ago, on a pleasantly cool day, this reporter and his dog, an Alaskan malamute named Bear, headed for a small set of trails in an area of woods not far from the New York-New Jersey border. With bicyclists plying their way on the shoulder of a nearby highway and the Hudson River rushing along beyond the wooded landscape, man and dog walked along the well-maintained trails, yielding to other visitors and trying to stay away from the tall grass.

There used to be a commonly held belief that ticks couldn’t survive below a certain minimum temperature, preventing their spread to northern climates. Now researchers are rethinking the relationship between tick populations and temperature.

Memories of the day were somewhat dampened after returning home. Bear, whose deep malamute hair is a jungle of fluffiness, brought home an intrepid hitchhiker. Crawling in that furry maze, and thankfully not attached to his skin, was a tick, no doubt on the hunt for some dog blood — or human blood, for that matter. Another one was found crawling nearby. This episode plays out across the United States and the rest of the world on a regular basis.

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