May 3, 2018
Tyson Staff Scientist Dr. Solny Adalsteinsson and Director Dr. Kim Medley comment on the implications of a recent study of lone star tick abundance. A radio story aired on May 3 and was published to the St. Louis Public Radio website on May 4.
Researchers say tick numbers related to local terrain
By Shahla Farzan • May 4, 2018
Most people hope to avoid ticks when they take a walk in the woods.
For biologists at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center, however, attracting ticks is the goal.
In a recent study, Tyson researchers collected thousands of lone star ticks in the Missouri Ozarks. The results point to an interesting pattern: the number of ticks found in an area is closely related to the topography, or physical features, of the landscape.
Easily recognized by its characteristic white-spotted back, the lone star tick is common across broad swaths of the eastern and central United States. It also appears to be on the move. Over the last several decades, it has colonized new regions and is now found in at least 32 states.
“It’s very abundant here in Missouri,” said Tyson staff scientist Solny Adalsteinsson, adding that the tick tends to be found on medium- to large-bodied hosts, like white-tailed deer and raccoons.
Unlike other tick species that use a “sit-and-wait” strategy, the lone star tick is an active hunter, following trails of carbon dioxide to sniff out hosts up to 16 feet away.
Read the entire story at the St. Louis Public Radio website.