|Title||Woodchip borders at the forest ecotone as an environmental control measure to reduce questing tick density along recreational trails in Ottawa, Canada|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2019|
|Authors||McKay R, Talbot B, Slatculescu AM, Stone A, Kulkarni MA|
|Journal||Ticks and Tick-borne Illnesses|
|Keywords||borrelia, Canada, Environmental management, Ixodes scapularis|
Recent studies have highlighted the occurrence and distribution of Ixodes scapularis ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto (s.s.) around the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and the need for strategies to mitigate the risk of human exposure and infection. We conducted a field study from July to October 2018 to examine the effectiveness of ecotonal woodchip borders as an environmental control method to suppress the density of host-seeking ticks along recreational trails in Ottawa. We used an experimental design with ten 100-m trail replicates randomized to intervention or control groups, and monitored questing tick density at weekly intervals in mid-summer and early fall. We compared questing tick density between woodchip-treated and untreated trails using a mixed-effects Poisson regression model. Of the 138 I. scapularis ticks collected, there were 86 adult and nymphal ticks, 37 (43 %) of which were positive for B. burgdorferi s.s. A total of 58 Haemaphysalis leporispalustris were also collected. Mean combined adult and nymphal I. scapularis density was 1.15 (1.40 standard deviation; SD) per 100 m in the control group compared to 0.28 (0.56 SD) per 100 m in the intervention group, reflecting a 75 % reduction in questing tick density on trail replicates treated with woodchip borders (p < 0.001). An effect of the intervention was observed in both sampling periods. This study indicates that woodchip borders may be an effective strategy to suppress questing tick density along trail margins where recreational trail users are more active, thereby reducing the likelihood of tick encounters.