Bumper crop of ticks this year. Our dog came down with a lame paw and was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Family members have unfortunately had tick bites. (I know).We live in a zero-lot-line community with minimal grass, no deer - but - lots of rabbits. Our dog is always trying to dislocate my shoulders eager to pursue these critters.
The term "deer tick" is misleading. Deer, like us humans are incidental hosts. The animals feed, neck bent, in tick infested brush. Deer heads and necks covered with Ixodes is a testament to just how dense the population of ticks is. not that deer are a necessary part of the equation. Any warm blooded animal (even us humans) can severe as the tertiary host for adult female maturation. In my case, rabbits are generally the final host.
The problem is the primary host: the white footed mouse. Newly hatched larvae take feed on mice having Borrelia swarming through their bodies (and co-infecting organisms) then morph into nymph forms which are the primary culprit for human transmission.
The 6 legged larvae become the 8 legged nymphs, well equipped for the job at hand. They can move very quickly and then lie still, perched for action, sniffing out the carbon dioxide and body heat of their next unwitting meal.
When we pull off an adult tick we don't really know how many others smaller forms may have attacked us unseen. The issue of how long the tick needs to be in place in order to transmit Lyme disease may be a moot point since most tick bites are never seen.
Some have suggested that most of the ticks are not infected and that we need not worry so much. Informal data from Clongen labs indicates the infection rates may range from 30-70 percent depending on the time of year in our area.
Any effective prevention programs must focus on effective ways to kill the ticks and perhaps the mice if possible. Thinning out deer populations, as some have suggested, will be of no help.
As for my bunnies, their population does thin out - spring to fall - meals for predators like our fox. Unfornuately, the fox become the next host for the stubborn ticks.