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.  This year (2015) we will be measuring the impacts on the nymphal stage, which is most important in terms of disease transmission to humans.