"The results were striking. When the scientists dragged the barberry sites, they found 140 infected ticks per acre. Where they killed the barberry, they found only 40 ticks. And when they dragged places that were free of barberry, they found only ten."
This excellent, excellent article by Carl Zimmer is not for the faint of heart or thin of skin. I read the whole thing through and by the end had scratched welts into my arms and legs—despite the fact that when a tick is attached you will not feel it. This piece will make you feel covered in itches.
Tick-borne diseases are the price that is paid by many in the northeast who enjoy spending time outdoors. I don’t know a hiker, gardener, or hammock loafer who hasn’t had at least one run-in with a tick. And pretty much everyone I know has had at least one Lyme disease scare.
And we all know who to blame, right? Deer. Mice. Maybe the pet dog. But Japanese barberry? That’s a new one by me. Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii, is an invasive plant brought to the United States in the late-19th century as an ornamental plant, but it soon jumped the garden walls and made its way across the northeast’s verdant forests where it grows in giant umbrella-like clumps, spreading across the ground as the arching branches touch the ground. And it turns out to be the perfect environment for ticks to live.
Ticks require humidity to survive. The life cycle of a tick is far more complicated than I could ever have imagined, and kind of makes them even more disgusting than I already thought them. If you spend any time outdoors in the northeast, take the 30-40 minutes it will take you to read this article. It’s fascinating and helpful. Sorry about the itching, though. ~AR
The Complex and Pathogen-Laden World of Ticks | Science | OutsideOnline.com