EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

April 9, 2010

NH could see big tick and mosquito populations

The unusual weather this spring could bring serious health worries over the next few months. Mosquitoes and ticks are out and that means the diseases they carry, like EEE and Lyme disease, could be more of a concern.

Alan Eaton, an entomologist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, said everything is going to depend on the weather. Regular rain and warm temperatures could add up to a healthy insect population.

Ticks, which carry Lyme disease, appear to have survived well through the winter and could pose a serious problem in a few months.

The black-legged tick or deer tick, which has been active for about a month, won't reach peak activity until June.

But so far, Eaton said, he expected there will be a large population of ticks.

"At this point, things are proceeding along normal lines," he said.

There wasn't a lot of snow or long stretches of cold weather this winter, both of which would have killed the tick population, Eaton said.

The American dog tick, which begins its activity in May, could appear even earlier this year, thanks to the warm temperatures. Eaton said the deer tick has been seen a few weeks ahead of schedule this year.

But even though there is an abundance in ticks, Lyme disease won't really peak until June and July. That's when the nymphs are most active, Eaton said.

The nymphs are smaller and harder to see, which makes them more dangerous.

"They have the ability to spread disease faster and more quickly to their host," Eaton said.

The state is scheduled to release 2009 Lyme disease data later this week, but Eaton said he expects to see a decrease in the disease from previous years.

However, that's not necessarily related to the number of ticks.

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