Invasive Plants Providing the Perfect Home for Ticks Across Connecticut

The month of June is typically considered one of the peak times for ticks in our state.

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We all know to check for ticks after you’ve been out in nature on a walk or hike, but there’s an invasive plant that you may even find in your own yard that could be keeping ticks closer to home.

"You couldn't drive down a street in Connecticut and not see barberry planted in someone’s yard," says Alexander Amendola, a forester for the Regional Water Authority. "Ticks are also horrific when it comes to barberry. You walk through a bush and you may get 20 or 30 ticks on you at once."

Foresters were out Thursday at the Maltby Lakes Recreation Area in Derby clearing Barberry – an invasive plant that creates a microclimate for ticks to survive and thrive.

Invasive Species Technician Joshua Tracy explained, "the foliage is really dense and that creates a lot of shade underneath it from the sun and what that shade does is it creates a cooler, moist atmosphere underneath that the ticks need to survive the harsh summers."

And after the mild winter followed by the cool spring, the tick population is exceptional this summer. So what should you do if you have a barberry bush in your yard? The Regional Water Authority Forester said the best course of action is to remove it.

"Although it's extremely detrimental environmentally it has really shallow roots, it's very susceptible to herbicides and it comes right out of the ground if you use a weed wrench,” said Amendola.

But this, of course, is only one precaution when it comes to protecting against ticks and you should still be diligent when it comes to doing tick checks. It takes around 36-48 hours to begin the transmission of the Lyme Disease pathogen from the tick to you so early detection is key. Something Connecticut residents are no stranger to.

"Before I even go take a shower when I come back I just do a quick check and make sure there's no marks or anything there," said Wallingford resident Luke Adams.

"I try to stay out of the long grass areas I try and stay on the path,” explained Trumbull resident Emilio Caballero.  “And like my son plays ball so if that ball goes in the bushes we try to use like long sticks to get the ball out if does go in there we're checking his legs and everything."

A quick and easy way to check for ticks is by using a lint roller. That way if there is a tick on your clothing, you don’t even have to touch it. And if you do find a tick on yourself or your pet, you can get it tested for Lyme Disease by the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven. For more information on how to submit the tick for testing, click here.

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