Moreover, Allan says, bush honeysuckle retains its leaves longer than most native species do. It's the first thing to leaf out in the spring and it's the last thing in the understory to drop its leaves in the fall, so it creates structure for a large portion of the year.
"This includes really important times of the year from the perspective of tick biology," Allan adds. "Larval ticks, the first lifestage ticks, are out from August until October. Come late October, honeysuckle is the only thing providing green cover, so deer probably bed in honeysuckle throughout the larval tick season.
"The larval ticks become infected when they take their blood meal from an infected host, usually a deer, and the next life-stage, the nymphs, may spread disease to people if they grab onto them for the next blood meal.
Allan figures out deer density by counting scat. "I can spot one pellet, just one little popcorn-sized pellet from a couple of meters away," he says. "And that's indicative of a really ridiculous amount of time spent in my life counting deer feces."
Poop surveys, he calls them.
"Deer scat is pretty distinctive," he says. "The only thing you could mix it up with is scat from an eastern cottontail rabbit, which is similar in size and shape but much smaller. But it would be hard to distinguish the scat from an adult rabbit and a baby deer; those are probably the only ones it would be possible to mix up."
Wherever you find white-tailed deer, you are likely to find ticks, Allan says. Lone star ticks need blood meals to power their metamorphoses from larva, to nymph, to adult and to fatten up for egg laying.
They sometimes bite coyotes, foxes and other animals, but their favorite hosts are wild turkey and white-tailed deer.
"I use a very straightforward way of trapping ticks, Allan says, "and
|Contact: Diana Lutz|
Washington University in St. Louis