Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to The Guardian global warming is bringing increased risk of attack from the killer ticks. But like most global warming threats this one is seriously overblown.
Disease-bearing ticks thrive as climate change heats up US
Blood-sucking ticks can spread Lyme disease and are extending beyond their traditional north-eastern range
Growing up in north-eastern Ohio, Kimberly Byce spent much of her childhood running around in the woods, with the greatest threat being mosquito bites or sunburn. She can’t remember her parents ever uttering the word “tick”. And yet, in adulthood, disease-laden ticks now blight her family’s life.
The family has been ravaged by the tiny black-legged, or deer, ticks, a creature the size of a pinhead that can carry Lyme disease and other maladies. Byce picked two of the ticks off her body last week, part of a regime that has become a constant worry in the family’s semi-rural household, located about 30 miles north-east of Columbus, Ohio’s capital.
“It’s really wearing on the kids, when they are in the back yard I’m spraying them like a maniac which is kind of putting a lot of fear into them,” Byce said. “I feel like some of their carefree childhood is being taken away but there’s the threat of a lot of damage. What’s scary is that I am the most diligent person with spraying, keeping to trails, being careful, checking for ticks. If I can get them on me, anyone can.”
The clearing of forest for housing and other infrastructure is bringing humans into closer contact with animals that carry disease, such as ticks. Meanwhile, rising temperatures are allowing ticks to become active earlier in the year and then feed deep into autumn, giving them a better chance of surviving winter. While ticks usually target animals such as deer and chipmunks, humans can unwittingly become hosts for their blood meal.Advertisement
“It’s a nightmare scenario,” said Felicia Keesing, a professor of biology at Bard College who has co-authored research linking the heat of the climate crisis to greater tick activity. “We are seeing more tick-borne diseases in more places. Wherever you find ticks, they are spreading.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/11/ticks-lyme-disease-climate-change-us
In Australia we have some nasty ticks. Pretty much everything in Australia wants to kill you, ranging from deadly bees to an almost invisible jellyfish the size of the end of your pinky, a slight brush from which 20 minutes later leads to paralysis and weeks of screaming agony. Even our most common ticks carry deadly neurotoxin and horrible diseases – you know you’ve been bitten when your entire limb goes numb.
I feel sorry for the handful of people who suffer medical consequences, but the reality is serious medical complications from a tick bite are rare. Usually you just end up with a small red bump the size of a mosquito bite, which disappears after a month, even if you are bitten by a nasty neurotoxic Australian tick.
For people who suffer an actual infestation in their area, like the Byce family described by the Guardian, spraying the area with DDT would be a more certain solution to their problem than building more wind turbines. But DDT is no longer available for solving large scale pest infestations, thanks to a baseless long term green fear campaign.