State researchers testing new approach against ticks

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — For the past two years, a state entomologist has been studying a new approach to controlling ticks on residential properties, and it is showing impressive results.

With the help of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Kirby Stafford has been studying what he calls the integrated approach to keeping ticks under control. It is essentially a two-pronged system that includes a natural insecticide made of a special fungus that attacks ticks, and bait boxes that are placed around your property to attract critters like chipmunks and mice.

“That bait box is essentially treating the mice and chipmunks and killing ticks on them, so the idea is that the animal goes into these bait boxes that are put around the perimeter of the property, they get treated with the Fipronol, the same active ingredient in the Frontline products for flea and tick control on dogs and cats, and it’s good for up to 30 days,” said Dr. Stafford.

From there, the mice and chipmunks take on the ticks.

“That means the mouse or chipmunk running around your backyard, instead of carrying infected ticks, will be killing ticks,” said Dr. Stafford. “Most people are most vulnerable to ticks at their homes when they’re outside gardening or when their children are playing around in the backyard.”

Dr. Stafford says the approach is all about giving homeowners options.

“The idea is to provide homeowners with information on alternatives to just traditional spraying for tick control around their property,” he said.

So far, that integrated approach has shown to be extremely effective in reducing the tick population by more than 78-percent in the test areas.

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