December 9, 2011
Boom and Bust in Acorns Will Affect Many Creatures, Including Humans

Gardeners in the Northeast beware: Next year’s gardening season may see an epic uptick in cases of Lyme disease, caused by a shortage of acorns. No, seriously … acorns.

According to this fascinating piece in the Times, oak trees in the Northeast are dropping a literal fraction of their usual number of acorns; on average less than a 1/2 lb. each (compared with a usual output of 25-30 pounds). How does this affect Lyme disease rates? Acorns are the petrochemicals of the northeast deciduous forest. They feed rodents and deer, and affect ground-nesting bird populations. The dearth of acorns will likely cause a cataclysmic drop in rodent populations and may push deer and other large rodents to forage father afield (and closer to roads). And what all of these eventually leads to is fewer hosts for one of nature’s most maligned blood-suckers: deer ticks.

Where will they go for blood? Us. Humans. So as the gardening season ramps up this spring remember to wear long sleeves, tuck in your sock, wear tons of bug spray, and to do daily tick-checks. It’s a jungle out there. Garden safe.

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