Ep. 19 - Ticks Suck The Big One

This episode is all about ticks! Bill and Steve describe the difference between Ixodidae (hard ticks), Argasidae (soft ticks), and Nuttalliellidae (a single extant African species with ancestral tick traits). They also discuss the right way to remove a tick, Lyme disease, and how ticks may be partly responsible for humans being “naked apes.” We hope you enjoy!

Relavent Links:
Taylor Road Hamburg Family Recreation Facility:

Ticks That Bite Humans:

Tick Borne Diseases:

Removing Ticks:

Steve said that “Permian times … were around 250 million years ago.” He was in the ball park with that one, but to be more exact, the Permian period lasted from 299 to 251 million years ago.

Steve mentioned that soft ticks (Argasidae) exude excess water from their anus instead of their salivary glands like hard ticks (Ixodidae) do. He was mixed up on that! The soft ticks secrete excess fluid through their coxal glands (on the base of their leg), while Nuttalliella Namaqua secretes excess fluid from it's anus.

Bill claimed that the tick that causes Lyme Disease is the Black-legged Tick. While this isn't incorrect, it's not the whole picture; the CDC says that "Lyme disease is transmitted by the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis) in the northeastern U.S. and upper midwestern U.S. and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) along the Pacific coast."

Further Notes:
Steve brings up "chronic Lyme disease" as a rare version of Lyme disease that lasts 6 months or longer. "Chronic Lyme disease has been a hotly debated topic in pseudoscience and alternative medicine circles. For more information, check out this writeup


Picture Credit:
Lennart Tange - Female Blacklegged Tick (2012)

Work Cited:
"Geographic distribution of ticks that bite humans." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 June 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/geographic_distribution.html>.

"Pictorial keys to anthropods, reptiles, birds and mammals of public health significance" U. S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Communicable Disease Center. Atlanta, Georgia. 1966

“Tickborne Diseases of the United States.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 August 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html>.Guglielmone, Alberto A., et al. "The Argasidae, Ixodidae and Nuttalliellidae (Acari: Ixodida) of the world: a list of valid species names." (2010).

Berger, K. A., Ginsberg, H. S., Dugas, K. D., Hamel, L. H., & Mather, T. N. (2014). Adverse moisture events predict seasonal abundance of Lyme disease vector ticks (Ixodes scapularis). Parasites & vectors7(1), 181.

Granter, Scott R., Aaron Bernstein, and Richard S. Ostfeld. "Of Mice and Men: Lyme Disease and Biodiversity." Perspectives in biology and medicine, vol. 57, no. 2, 2014, pp. 198-207, doi:10.1353/pbm.2014.0015.

Mans, Ben J., et al. "Nuttalliella namaqua: a living fossil and closest relative to the ancestral tick lineage: implications for the evolution of blood-feeding in ticks." PloS one 6.8 (2011): e23675.

Pagel, Mark, and Walter Bodmer. "A naked ape would have fewer parasites." Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 270.Suppl 1 (2003): S117-S119.

Rantala, Markus J. "Human nakedness: adaptation against ectoparasites?." International journal for parasitology 29.12 (1999): 1987-1989.

Schauber, Eric M., Richard S. Ostfeld, and Andrew S. Evans Jr. "What is the best predictor of annual Lyme disease incidence: weather, mice, or acorns?." Ecological Applications 15.2 (2005): 575-586.

Simon, Julie A., et al. "Climate change and habitat fragmentation drive the occurrence of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, at the northeastern limit of its distribution." Evolutionary Applications 7.7 (2014): 750-764.

Werden, Lisa, et al. "Geography, deer, and host biodiversity shape the pattern of Lyme disease emergence in the Thousand Islands Archipelago of Ontario, Canada." PLoS One 9.1 (2014): e85640.

Wood, Chelsea L., et al. "Does biodiversity protect humans against infectious disease? Reply." Ecology 97.2 (2016): 543-546.