Experts are predicting a big jump in black-legged tick (aka deer tick) infestations this year because of a strange chain of events involving white-footed mice and acorns. Basically the white-footed mouse is a favored carrier for black-legged ticks because it is common, low to the ground and has few natural predators. Two years ago we had a huge boom in the acorn crop which led to a huge boom in the white-footed mouse population last year. This in turn led to a huge boom in tick larvae. But this year is apparently a really bad year for acorns and so the mouse population is crashing and the tick larvae, now ready for the next stage of life, are going to have to look elsewhere for their big meal. That means lots of hungry ticks hanging out in the woods.
So, seriously, watch out for those ticks. Besides Lyme disease, ticks can carry other infections. Here’s some advice from the CDC.
Other rather gross facts about ticks include that they only eat three times in their lives. Once as larvae (baby ticks) when they use a small host (like the white-footed mouse) and then again a year later as larvae when they are bigger and can dine on the mice or larger mammals and finally as adults when they find larger mamamals still if they can and also mate. Each female tick can lay up to 3000 eggs.