EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 9, 2014

Tick population booming this year

Tick population booming in Southern New Hampshire

It’s a good time to be a tick.

While residents pick the pests off themselves and their pets with uncomfortable regularity, pest control companies are scrambling to meet client demand.

Things probably couldn’t be worse for area residents, said Alan Eaton, an entomologist with the University of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire now carries the highest number of Lyme disease incidents in the country. Rockingham County is the hot-spot for tick trouble in the Granite State, Eaton said.

“Overall, it seems we’re seeing good — or maybe I should say bad — numbers of ticks this spring,” he said.

Steve Vargus, owner of Precision Pest Control in Londonderry, said the tick population is the highest he’s seen after 20 years in the field.

“I get calls every day on them,” Vargus said. “Unless you’re in northern Canada or the Northern Great Woods, there are ticks everywhere.”

A number of factors led to the tick population boom this year, Eaton said.

The biggest one is weather — most specifically this past winter.

“The snow began early and stayed late, so we had good snow cover on the surface for the winter,” Eaton said. “That sealed things in and protected them from drying.”

After the snow melted, the region saw plenty of moisture. Drying out is the biggest threat to ticks, Eaton said, but there was little chance of that this spring.

With warmer weather, people are spending more time outside and the problem has become more apparent.

Residents are increasingly turning to pest control companies for help.

“They lay on low-lying branches and when you walk by, whether you’re an animal — mouse, raccoon, moose — they’ll fall on you, cling on you and start embedding,” Vargus said.

Cora Rivera, owner of Seasons Natural Healthcare in Derry, said she people need to look at their yards.

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