Do Fewer Ticks Mean Less Risk of Lyme?

The Highlands Current news writer, Brian PJ Cronin (03.15.2024) published, “Fewer Ticks = Less Lyme? Maybe Not.” In this article, Cronin interviews Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist and co-director of The Tick Project. Ostfeld discusses the results of a 5 year study conducted by the Carey Institute where fungal spray and bait boxes were applied across 24 neighborhoods in Dutchess County, including some in Beacon County to determine effectiveness in reducing tick populations and tick-borne disease occurrence in humans. 

The fungal spray utilized in the study is made from Metarhizium anisopliae, which is a fungus found in forest soil in the eastern US, and is sold as Met52. The bait boxes were used to attract rodents to apply a non-toxic insecticide with the same active ingredient as the common tick treatment for pets, Frontline, which is safe for vertebrates and toxic to ticks.

Although use of bait boxes did reduce the tick populations by half within the study area, the reduction had only a minor impact in reducing tick-borne illness occurrence in humans or people’s encounters with ticks. The use of fungal spray made no difference. These findings were similar to a 2016 preliminary study.

Ostfeld is quoted, “It wasn’t the answer we wanted, but it is the answer” and “it tells us where to look and where not to look when trying to solve this enormous societal problem.” Ostfeld stated that answers would require “a study far beyond the capabilities of the Cary Institute and require researchers in social sciences and human behavior, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers.”

LDA Note: LDA has funded research conducted by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (Rick Ostfeld, PhD)

For More Information:

Read The Highlands Current Article

Read More about The Tick Project

Read More LDA Articles on Tick Reduction Studies