Lyme Disease

Dear Fellow Members,
Over the past winter I have researched the available literature regarding Lyme disease and the methods of reducing the probability of being infected with the disease.
As you may know, the primary vector for the transmission of the disease is the black legged tick, also known as the deer tick. The primary reservoir  host from which the tick receives the pathogen that causes the disease, is the white footed mouse. The deer other than providing a form of transportation for the tick, is not a source of the pathogen.
There are two main ways of reducing or eliminating the tick population.  They are the the use of repellents to kill or repel the ticks or action taken to reduce or eliminate the white footed mice.
The most effective product in killing the black legged tick is permithrin. It was originally developed as an extract of the chrysanthemum plant but has since been synthesized and is commercially available as a spray for clothing. In addition some sources report having success using a product made up of permithrin soaked cotton balls contained in a tube. The tubes are thrown in late autumn into areas where mice are likely to hide for the winter such as wood piles and stone walls. The mice use the cotton in building their nests and the permithrin soaked cotton balls kill the ticks; at least that’s the claim. I have attached a copy of a Report on Insect Repellents by the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health for a more detailed review of the various repellents.
The second way of addressing the problem is to reduce or eliminate the white footed mice which are the source of the pathogen. Studies have found that the presence of stands of the Japanese barberry plant, an invasive species, enables the proliferation of the mice by providing a shelterring environment. Their leaves provide a microclime that maintains a warm spot for the mice to survive the winter and their thorns protect the mice from their natural predators such as foxes and hawks during the rest of the year. Studies suggest that by removing the stands of Japanese barberries on your property, you eliminate 90% of the tick population.
In this regard, I attach an excellent detailed report by Jeffrey Ward, Kirby Stafford and Scott Williams of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and Thomas Worthley of the University of Connecticut entitled, “Managing Japanese Barberry Infestations Reduces Black Legged Ticks”. These gentlemen were very helpful to me in forwarding materials and pointing me to other sources for data and information.
Having identified Japanese barberry as an enabler, how do you get rid of it? Again these gentlemen came to the rescue. I have attached a complete “How To” guide to their removal entitled, Japanese Barberry Control Methods. I am in the process of removing all of the Japanese barberry on my property and this guide has been extremely helpful.
Finally, as you long as you are going to be ripping out this invasive species,I thought you may want to expand your plan of action to removing other invasive species on your property which would allow the native foliage to regenerate. In this regard I have attached another guide, Invasive Species In Your Backyard for your further reading.
In addition to checking the website of CAES and the University of Connecticut for information on this subject, I also recommend you check the website of “TickEncounter at the University of Rhode Island” for further information.
Rember, ticks travel. Eliminating them in one area may not be sufficient. All members should be aware of and taken action against this danger.
Regards to all,
Gerry Reidy