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The Tick Project in Focus

Explore results from The Tick Project, a six-year study that was the first to test if environmentally-safe interventions could reduce ticks and the diseases they carry at the neighborhood level. In this virtual event, project directors Felicia Keesing of Bard College and Rick Ostfeld of Cary Institute will review the study design, methods, results, and lessons learned along the way, with ample time for audience Q&A.

The Tick Project was conducted in Dutchess County, New York, home to some of the nation’s highest rates of Lyme disease. The study was designed to determine whether Met52 fungal spray and Tick Control System bait boxes, used separately or together in yards, could reduce tick numbers, tick encounters, and neighborhood risk of contracting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. More than 2,380 people (and 849 pets) participated, representing 24 neighborhoods. Dozens of researchers monitored ticks on participating properties and households completed biweekly surveys about tick encounters.

After processing mountains of data, long-awaited results are in. TCS bait boxes were found to reduce the number of ticks in people’s yards by about half, while the Met52 fungal spray had little effect. Neither control resulted in fewer tick encounters by people or a reduction in Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in treated neighborhoods. Incidence of tick-borne diseases in pets was lower by about half on properties that were treated with either the boxes, the spray, or both.

The Tick Project set a gold standard for methods in the fields of disease ecology, vector control and integrated tick management. The study is a reminder of the importance of personal protection and vigilance in the fight against tick-borne disease.

Resources mentioned in the webinar
Overview of the project and study results

Effects of tick-control Interventions on tick abundance, human encounters with ticks, and Incidence of tickborne diseases in residential neighborhoods, NY, USA
Article on The Tick Project results, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases

The tick biocontrol agent Metarhizium brunneum (= M. anisopliae) (strain F52) does not reduce non-target arthropods
Article on non-target impacts of Met52, published in PLoS One

Tritrophic interactions between a fungal pathogen, a spider predator, and the blacklegged tick
Article on wolf spiders as blacklegged tick predators, published in Ecology & Evolution

Hosts as ecological traps for the vector of Lyme disease
Article on animal biodiversity and Lyme disease transmission, published in Proc. Biol. Society

The Tick Project was conducted in partnership with Bard College, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State Department of Health, and Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health. The research was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and the support of a network of generous donors.

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