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A Tale of Ticks in Public Gardens

Articles: A Tale of Ticks in Public Gardens

Western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) awaiting a passing host. Author’s photographs

From a human perspective, ticks are universally regarded as loathsome critters ostensibly lacking any redeemable qualities other than malevolently participating in the balance of nature. Many outdoor workers and recreationists doubtless share this disdain for ticks: individuals who frequent rural or semi-rural environments long enough are likely to eventually find one or more of these blood-suckers crawling on their bodies or, worse yet, firmly affixed to their skin. Although the vast majority of tick species never or seldom bite people, certain species that do may deliver a dose of disease-causing viruses, bacteria, or protozoan parasites in their spit. In the United States, for example, ticks are best known for transmitting the bacteria that cause two common and well-publicized maladies: Lyme disease (LD) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2009, LD alone accounted for approximately 30,000 confirmed (an all-time high) and about 8,500 probable cases, largely in Eastern states.

Lyme disease is caused by a group of ...


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