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Areas With Predator Activity Have Fewer Ticks

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Areas with the most predator activity have far fewer ticks and far fewer ticks infected with Lyme Disease. Another reason to root for predators!

Mice are highly efficient transmitters of Lyme. They infect up to 95 percent of ticks that feed on them. Mice are responsible for infecting the majority of ticks carrying Lyme in the Northeast. And ticks love mice.

Tim R. Hofmeester’s, at Wageningen University in the Netherlands,  had a theory – that areas with high numbers of foxes and martens, a predator in the weasel family, would have fewer mice and fewer infected ticks.

What Hofmeester found is that not only do predators kill and eat some of the mice, they make the survivors jumpy.

Nervous mice tend to stay home. Mice that stay home don’t run into ticks, don’t provide food for the next generation of ticks and don’t become infected with Lyme disease. Areas with the most predator activity had almost the same number of mice as areas without predators but had one-fifth as many ticks and one-eighth as many infected ticks.

This could be the first paper to empirically show that predators are good for your health with respect to tick-borne pathogens!

More via the Times Herald

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