Timber harvesting practices can change the forest microclimate, which may affect tick survival.

Collecting ticks from a drag cloth

Christine Conte, a recent graduate student in the University of Maine’s Vector Ecology Lab, studied the differences between timber harvested (within five years) and unharvested land (no harvesting within 20 years) in Coastal Maine. She found ticks more frequently in unharvested land and also found that unharvested land had a significantly different microclimate compared to harvested land. Ticks are very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, therefore, these differences likely affect the ticks’ ability to survive. It seems like different forest management techniques may impact microclimate and tick populations.

With this in mind, we are working with landowners to see how their own management strategies affects tick populations and their associated pathogens.

Tick collecting for the Maine Forest Tick Survey will begin in the summer of 2020 and preliminary results will be available starting in the Spring of 2021.