In the same breathe of warning spring hunters about the grim Lyme disease forecast, we’re also warning morel mushroom hunters to be aware of an increase in Lyme in 2017. . .
In 2016, a plague of mice struck down on the Hudson River Valley. This little creature is a big nuisance, and for morel mushroom hunters, this means one thing: more ticks.
Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Carry Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., and his wife, Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College, say the rise in mice for 2016 correlates to the Lyme cases the following summer.
Keesing and Ostfeld have studied Lyme for over 20 years, and have come up with a way to predict when the disease will be more prominent: Count the mice the year before, they reported.
It’s quite simple, really: Mice provide free rides for ticks all summer long. And mice are responsible for infecting up to 95% of the ticks feeding on them with Lyme. “An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face,” Ostfeld says.
So basically, if you’re going to be doing any morel mushroom hunting this spring, you’re going to want to pay extra close attention when checking for ticks. Ostfeld is predicting 2017 to be a “particularly risky year for Lyme,” though he cannot predict which states will be at the highest risk.
Regardless, morel hunters and all other folks spending time outdoors this summer, should be vigilant in checking for the pesky insect.