Targeting mice

One method to reduce tick abundance that has been tested on the east coast is to target the mice that serve as important hosts for the ticks as well as pathogen reservoirs. To do this, white-footed and deer mice are treated with an insecticide that kills any ticks that attach to them.  To get the insecticide onto the mouse’s fur, a nest material that has been sprayed with the insecticide is placed in the environment. There is a commercially available product called the “Tick Tube” that can be used but we are testing the efficacy of a less-expensive, homemade version. During the first year (2014), we measured decreases in the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the white footed mice as well as in the numbers of ticks on those mice in the treated areas in comparison with areas that were not treated.  In 2015, we found reduced numbers of questing and infected nymphs, the stage, which is most important in terms of disease transmission to humans.  Tubes were put out again in the spring of 2015.  In 2016, tick numbers were very low, so although there were fewer collected in the treated sites, this was not statistically significant when compared with the untreated control sites.  In 2016, we deployed tick tubes 2 times, once in May and again in August.  Early reports from 2017 suggest that tick numbers will be higher this year at the trial location.