Lone Star Ticks Have Swarmed Aquinnah, Biologist Says

“Lone star ticks – and thousands of their larvae — have overrun the town of Aquinnah, biologist and tick expert Richard Johnson told Aquinnah selectmen at their meeting Wednesday, following reports that showed a high incidence of tick-borne disease in the town this year.

In a letter that went out last week, the town board of health reported 13 new cases of tick-borne illnesses since April of this year, including cases of Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babeosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. At the meeting, Mr. Johnson said he was in Aquinnah on Tuesday surveying yards for ticks and found lone star larvae in every location he visited.

“I was horrified,” Mr. Johnson said. “I’ve looked at a lot of ticks over the past 10 years and the number of lone star larvae I found was just astonishing,”

Mr. Johnson is director of the Martha’s Vineyard tick-borne illness reduction program. He said he receives at least one call or email a day alerting him to newly discovered clusters of lone star ticks on the Island.

“They’re everywhere,” Mr. Johnson said. “Every property that we have gone to in Aquinnah to do a survey we’ve found lone star ticks. They’re literally every place in the town except maybe the [Gay Head] Cliffs.”

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