Science Cafe Concord to discuss Lyme disease (extra credit for pants tucked into socks)

  • Pulling your socks over your pants can keep ticks from crawling up your legs. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Published: 5/3/2016 12:00:22 AM

If it seems to you that there are a ton of ticks this year, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean you’re correct, however.

“It might seem that way, but the numbers (of ticks) I am seeing, when checking with sampling cloth, are lower than usual,” said Alan Eaton, a UNH Cooperative Extension specialist who is New Hampshire’s go-to guy for information about bugs.

Good news, but probably temporary. Tick populations, Eaton said, trend with the weather because those flat little creatures dry up quickly.

“We had a drought last year. There were a relatively low number of active adults (last) fall. A couple of times, I totally gave up on sampling,” Eaton said.

That effect is continuing at a time of year when the young – known as nymphs – start crawling around looking for a meal. “The nymphs have fewer reserves and body volume of water, and they wouldn’t survive as well as the adults would. We had very, very few or zero of them,” he said.

But why do you think you’ve seen a lot of ticks this spring? Well, maybe you have.

Eaton and I were talking about black-legged ticks, aka deer ticks – the nasty little buggers that spread Lyme disease. Dog ticks, which are bigger and easier to spot than the black-legged species, do seem quite prevalent this year in New Hampshire, but since they generally don’t spread disease to people I’m not too worried.

“So this week, I’ve seen five American dog ticks on me, or turned in for me to examine. But I’ve seen just one blacklegged tick in that same period,” said Eaton in an interview last week, before the rain came.

You can learn the difference, and lots more, tonight at the latest Science Cafe Concord. The topic of our monthly chat is Lyme disease. Eaton will be one panelist, ready to answer questions of the insect and arachnid variety, while Dr. Lynn Durand of the Center for Integrative Medicine will be on hand to discuss medical issues.

I’ll be there to moderate, and to talk about how cool we look when we tuck our pants into our socks to thwart ticks. (Ticks grab onto your shoes as you walk by and then crawl upwards until they encounter skin, so overlapping socks helps keep them on the outside of your clothing.)

Pants Inside Your Socks is the hottest of fashion trend this season. You heard it here first.

Lyme disease is, of course, a serious topic. New Hampshire has perhaps the highest rate of the disease of any state (although that’s a harder number to pin down than you might think), and there is considerable concern, as well as debate, about the extent of long-term effects.

But even though this is serious, we try to keep things relatively light at Science Cafe, as well as fact-based. There’s no reason you can’t learn something amid beer, pub food and feeble jokes – the latter being my specialty.

As always with Science Cafe events, the event is free and open to all. It starts at 6 p.m., but you might want to show up early: The upstairs room at The Draft Sports Bar, 67 S. Main St., tends to fill up and even overflow.

For more information, check sciencecafenh.org.

If you’ve never been, or if you can’t make it to the event and want to learn more after the fact, Concord TV films the cafes, broadcasts them and makes them available on its website.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek)




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