In a recent article in The Suffolk Times, writer Peter Boody raises the question whether those chigger bites East Enders think they have may actually be from lone star tick larvae. In recent years the population of lone star ticks has dramatically increased on the East End therefore expanding the threat of tick borne diseases.
Now, new anecdotal evidence may suggest that the larvae of these ticks is in fact what many are referring to as chiggers, which cause red welts on the skin. If this new evidence is in fact the case that what people thought were chigger bites are actually from ticks, then all the more reason to continue treating your property this fall to halt the reproduction of these ticks in the spring season.
Scott Campbell, an entomologist who heads the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Arthropod Borne Disease Laboratory, states that he has never found a chigger anywhere on Long Island. He states chiggers are found to the south and west in warmer climates. Lone star larvae begin to hatch in July and are active through the fall months. Chiggers tend to be active in the spring and summer months. The larvae are laid by the female in clusters therefore creating an opportunity where a person could very likely see dozens of bites in one area of their body. The larvae don’t carry the tick borne diseases similar to the ones the adults carry, but as they mature they will be a threat to contract these diseases.
To curb the reproduction and maturation of these larvae, fall treatment of properties is imperative. I recommend continuing preventative spraying into the end of October to kill the existing larvae and thus limit the new batch of ticks that could potentially hatch at the start of the 2013 season.
Other tips as a reminder of property upkeep this fall to curb the nesting of the larvae include:
* Reduce leaf litter, brush and weeds at the edge of the lawn and around the house.
* Remove brush and leaves around stonewalls and wood piles.
* Use wood chips to help keep the buffer zone free of plants and restrict tick migration.
* Trim tree branches to let in more sunlight.