ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.

Ticks vs Mosquitos

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I haven’t had a lot of experience before with ticks in Wisconsin. We theoretically are exposed to ticks, but I had only once personally experienced a tick. It wasn’t even biting anything, just hanging around on my bathroom floor after being shaken out of my pant cuff.

Ticks are a much bigger problem here in New Hampshire. A couple of reasons why this could be:

  1. I’m doing more hiking and spending time in the woods, so I”m getting more tick exposure.
  2. There’s more ticks in New Hampshire than in Wisconsin.
  3. The ticks in New Hampshire like me while the ticks in Wisconsin were disgusted and repelled by me.

Thankfully, I haven’t been bitten by a tick (yet) but Pidi has now had three ticks bite him and numerous ticks crawling around on him. Eew.

So, in Wisconsin, mosquitos were a big problem, but here in New Hampshire, ticks seem to be a bigger problem. This deserves a detailed comparison. Ticks vs Mosquitos: The Showdown of the Bloodsuckers!

(L) Deflated and engorged deer ticks. (Photo from Biology-blog.com (R) An engorged mosquito. Photo from IMVCA.org.

Mode of Transportation

Ticks hang onto long grasses and wait for an animal or human to brush by. They jump on for a free ride and hopefully a snack. Mosquitos fly around and make a distinct buzz to announce their presence. Ticks +, Mosquitos +++.

Gross Factor

Ticks suck blood. Mosquitos suck blood. When ticks are engorged with blood, they turn a grossly grey color and their bodies expand to a very large size. When mosquitos are engorged with blood, they are clear and red. Ticks that are engorged with blood cannot be swatted to death. Mosquitos leave a bloody smear when they’re swatted. Ticks +++, Mosquitos +

Physical Biting Mechanism

Ticks have “mouth parts” that they use to gnaw at the flesh of animals and insert their head into the flesh to eat blood. Mosquitos have a long probiscus that pierces the skin and takes blood from the arteries. Ticks are hard to remove because those “mouth parts” and the head can leave infection. Mosquitos add a saliva into the wound so the blood doesn’t coagulate and so the mosquito can remove the probiscus and fly away. Ticks +++, Mosquitos ++

Local Reaction to Bite

Everybody’s had a mosquito bite. It itches for a few days and then goes away. Tick bites are just about as bad, as long as the “mouth parts” are removed. The rare cases of serious complications from tick bites can lead to widespread local infection and paralysis. Ticks ++ Mosquitos + (Ticks get an extra + for possibility of serious badness.)

Ease of Prevention

Both ticks and mosquitos are repelled by common insect repellants including DEET. Mosquitos can bite through clothes while ticks have to bury under clothes to bite. Ticks +, Mosquitos ++

Public Health Threat

Mosquitos are a vector for transmission of malaria, west nile virus, and a whole spattering of other horrible maladies. Ticks can transmit lyme disease, as well as some animal diseases. According to the WHO, in 2011 there were 216 million cases of malaria worldwide, and over 650,000 deaths. According to the CDC, there were 4.981 confirmed cases of west nile virus in 2011 and 223 deaths. For lyme disease, (only accounting for Lyme disease, not the chronic pain condition sometimes called “chronic lyme disease.”) there were about 26,000 cases in 2011 and is the most common insect-vector born disease in the United States. Ticks ++, Mosquitos +++++!

So the final count is:

Ticks 12, Mosquitos 14

MOSQUITOS WIN! 

Nasty.

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