Controlled burns reduce ticks, Lyme disease

The Bay Journal
January 13, 2023
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US East

As tick-borne Lyme disease continues to spread in Pennsylvania and other Chesapeake Bay drainage states, a new study suggests more use of prescribed burns on public and private forests could help reduce both the numbers of ticks and incidence of the disease. In a paper published in Ecological Applications, researchers from Penn State, the U.S. Forest Service and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said the increased use of prescribed fire by forest managers to control invasive plants, improve wildlife habitat and restore ecosystem health can also help knock down the tick problem. The fire and heat kill some ticks, but, more importantly, burning creates less favorable habitat for the parasites. The absence of burning allows vegetation to grow more densely, creating better opportunities for ticks to brush against hosts. Moreover, thick vegetation, along with climate change, creates warmer and more humid forest litter, resulting in microclimates that help ticks survive the winter.

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