Why Lyme Disease Ticks Thrive in the North

Take Higher Caution in Cool, High-Humidity Climates




Nataliia K/Shutterstock.com

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, in Kingston, have studied the rapid increase in Lyme disease in the northern U.S. Only 11 cases of the disease, which annually impacts about 300,000 Americans, were reported in 2015 in Alabama, a state of approximately 5 million residents. Meanwhile, there were 491 confirmed cases in Vermont, with a population of less than 700,000.

The researchers studied the life cycle, metabolism and behavior of black-legged ticks, collecting larvae from several eastern areas. They discovered that ticks live longer in cooler temperatures with higher levels of humidity, making northeastern climates ideal, because longer lives mean increased chance of contact. Southern ticks stay hidden underfoot in layers of leaves to stay cool and damp, making them less likely to find a human host than their northern counterparts, which reside on leaves and trees.

“There has been a lot of research aimed at finding out what makes black-legged ticks more efficient hosts for Lyme disease in the north than in the south,” explains Roger LeBrun, an entomology professor at the University of Rhode Island and co-author of the study. “People have looked at everything from the effects of temperature on tick life cycles to the types of animals the ticks feed on. Probably all of these factors play roles, but our results suggest that evolutionary pressure to conserve moisture by staying under the leaf litter surface is a critical factor.”


This article appears in the June 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Inactive Lifestyle Accelerates Aging

Women ages 64 to 95 with sedentary lifestyles had significantly shorter leukocyte telomere length, which is a marker for faster genetic aging.

Healthy Eating Can Improve Bone Density in Women

In a six-year Ohio State study, women that ate the most low-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, had less bone loss in their hips.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

Tickets on Sale for Healthy Lifestyle Event, Film Screening

Early bird ticket pricing ends July 31 for the day-long expo The Revolution of Consciousness on September 24, at The Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury Crossing.

The Anti-Cancer Kitchen

There are many delicious, satisfying and nutritious foods that help defend the body against the invasion of cancer by reducing inflammation, detoxifying, boosting the immune system, inhibiting tumor growth and/ or promoting the destruction of cancer cells.

SugAR Poke Diet and Nutrition App Helps to Reduce Sugar Intake

SugAR Poke, a free public health app, is focused on displaying the truth about secondary sugar for all food products in local grocery stores.

Reiki Supports Individuals Living with Cancer

To offset the emotional storm that comes with a cancer diagnosis, patients can engage in mind-body practices, such as reiki, to relieve stress.

One-Year Shiatsu Certification Program Begins this September

Travel to beautiful Vermont for one four-day weekend each month, beginning September 29, to become a certified Shiatsu practitioner.

Ignite More Sexual Energy with Sacred Temple Arts

Sacha L. Fossa is a highly trained and experienced sex, intimacy and relationship coach, educator and holistic healer, offering the keys to sensual and sexual healing, awakening, more pleasure and empowerment, at any life stage.