Good news! You can now test ticks here in Maine. I want to thank Maine Woodland Owners for publicizing this in their March newsletter. I am going to share that information with you today.
A new in-state service that tests ticks for pathogens is available at the Tick Lab, housed within UMaine’s new Diagnostic and Research Laboratory. They test for three of the most common tick-borne pathogens – Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and babesiosis – that are carried by deer ticks. Those ticks are now spread throughout the state.
Ticks and Tick-borne diseases are a significant public health issue in Maine, said Griffin Dill, pest management specialist for UMaine’s Cooperative Extension. Dill said the Tick Lab offers tick species identification and uses the information to monitor tick populations throughout the state.
I was not aware, until I read the Maine Woodlands article, that we have another species of concern – the lone-star tick. Field sampling near locations where lone-star ticks were found has not revealed established populations. Dill speculates that lone-star ticks arrive in the spring on migratory birds.
You need to be aware of and wary of lone-star ticks which are notorious for prompting allergic reactions to red meat and are a vector for several tick-borne illnesses.
Dill emphasized the importance of being vigilant about ticks as temperatures warm up. “They are active anytime the temperatures are above the freezing mark, and they are especially active once temperatures reach 40 degrees,” he said. Deer tick nymphs, about the size of a poppyseed, “quest” – seek a host. Yup, that host could be you.
The fee for having ticks tested is just $15. To submit a tick, or for more information about tick management outreach, personal protection, and tick-borne disease prevention, visit www.ticks.umaine.edu.