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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

And the plant is...

The plant is Cutleaf Toothwort or Dentaria laciniata.  This spring ephemeral grows to be 4" to 8" tall and is a great spring wildflower.  It is currently blooming a little on the early side, but most things are this year!  If you have a woods that has a garlic mustard infestation, this will be one of the first plants to disappear with the infestation.
Speaking of garlic mustard, this is another plant that is blooming almost a month early this year, so make sure that you plan accordingly and pull it before it sets seed! 

Lyme Disease in 2012.  I have heard some not so good news recently about Lyme Disease in the Northeastern U.S.  I think the important point to make is that first and foremost, the predicted surge in lyme disease is not related to the very mild winter and spring.   We can blame fluctuations in acorns and mouse populations, not the mild winter.   Information about the predicted Lyme Disease increase was courtesy of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.  If you are interested in reading the full article, the link will be posted below, but otherwise, this is an excerpt of the article.  


Acorn crops vary from year-to-year which influences the survival and breeding fitness of the white-footed mice.  White-footed mice are the preferred hosts for black-legged ticks and are very effective at transmitting the bacterium that causes lyme disease.  The recent cycle showed a boom in the acorn crop followed by a boom in the mouse population. The acorn crop has crashed this past year, followed by a serious decline in the mouse population.  This leaves hungry ticks looking for a blood meal.  The most dangerous (and effective at transmitting disease) is the nymphal stage of a black-legged tick.  The bad news for us is that due to the high population the larval stage of the tick did really well, and the ticks will be back in their nymphal stage looking for someone to replace their favorite meal.  For the full article please visit: http://www.caryinstitute.org/press_2012-03-15.html 

I do not want to be an alarmist, and I do not want to discourage you from going outdoors.  However, it is important to be prepared.  Always check yourself very carefully for ticks, and wear light clothing to be able to view the ticks more easily.  If you do find a tick that has been embedded in your skin, carefully remove, and pay close attention to any flu-like symptoms that may develop over the next few days.    Early detection can result in curing the disease, typically the undiagnosed cases are the ones that have the most issues.  If you have a tick bite, and you do not feel yourself within the next week, it is important to go to your doctor and get your blood drawn to test for the presence of the bacterium.  Enjoy the outdoors, but always remember to check yourself, your pets, and children when  you return home!

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