Hey everyone! It’s been a while. I apologize for my absence, but I don’t think I had much worth sharing.
Recently, I finished my first two weeks of field work. We collected ticks at 16 sites across an urbanization gradient in Oklahoma City, OK.
How have you been collecting ticks?
One of a ticks main goals is to find a host and take a blood meal, so we use this to our advantage. We’ve been using two methods of collecting ticks: CO2 trapping and flagging.
CO2 trapping involves a wooden board with tape around all the edges and a container full of dry ice in the middle.
Dry ice is solid CO2, and ticks will migrate towards CO2 thinking it’s a potential host. When they try to find the source of the CO2, they’ll get stuck on the tape! We pull them off, stick them in a tube full of alcohol, and ID them in the lab.
When we flag for ticks, we take essentially a flag made of white, felt-like material and drag it across the ground and vegetation in a sort of sweeping motion. Ticks actively questing for hosts will latch on to the flag, thinking it’s a host, and we’ll pick them off!
So far we have collected, IDed and sexed 752 ticks!
The next two weeks will be full of more tick collections and vegetation surveys. Then, we’ll start catching birds and searching them for ticks!
Thanks for reading 🙂