The Tick Project

The Tick Project is testing whether environmental interventions can prevent tick-borne diseases in our communities. The need for prevention is stronger than ever, with expanding tick populations and more than 300,000 Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year.

The Tick Project is a five-year study to determine whether neighborhood-based prevention can reduce human cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The methods we are testing are simple and safe for people, pets, and the environment.

The study is taking place in Dutchess County, New York, which is home to some of the nation’s highest rates of Lyme disease incidence. We are recruiting residents of twenty-four neighborhoods to participate in the project. Each neighborhood consists of 6-10 square blocks and roughly 100 properties.

The study will determine whether two tick control methods, used separately or together, can reduce the number of cases of Lyme disease at the neighborhood level. 


Collecting ticks on the Cary Institute Campus.

The “Tick Control System”, or TCS®, is a small box that attracts small mammals.  When an animal enters the box, it receives a small dose of fipronil, the active ingredient in many tick treatments used on dogs and cats.  Fipronil kills ticks on animals like mice and chipmunks, which are largely responsible for infecting ticks with the Lyme bacterium.

Metarhizium anisopliae is a fungus that occurs naturally in forest soils in eastern North America. It has been shown to kill ticks. A strain of this fungus, Met52, has been developed as a commercial product. It can be sprayed on  vegetation where it kills ticks looking for hosts on which to feed.

The study will answer once and for all whether we can prevent cases of tick-borne disease by treating the areas around people’s homes. If this approach prevents disease, we will be able to recommend plans that could be immediately adopted by local municipalities, governments, community groups, or neighborhoods.

To learn more, visit: www.tickproject.org

Related Projects
tick collecting

Lyme Disease

Different species of tick hosts tend to have different probabilities of transmitting an infection to a feeding tick. In eastern and central North America, the host most likely to transmit an infection to a feeding tick is the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), which infects between 40% and 90% of feeding larvae.

The Acorn Connections

Acorn production catalyzes chain reactions in a complex web of species interactions in oak forests that can influence forest health, via Gypsy Moth outbreaks, human health, via Lyme disease risk, and biodiversity via songbird nesting success. What are these and other acorn connections?

Biodiversity, Community Ecology, and the Dilution Effect

Biodiversity can protect human health by reducing human exposure to diseases transmitted from wildlife. Environmental changes, such as habitat fragmentation, can increase disease risk by reducing both predators and biodiversity.

Funders/Partners

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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