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Forecasting Change: More warming means more ticks and poison ivy

Ticks are emerging faster and earlier
Ticks are emerging faster and earlier

Orlando, Fla. – First up, ticks. These little creatures come in 850 different types worldwide. In the U.S. we have almost 100 of these 850 creeping around. The ones that go for our animals, and in turn us, number about five. In a changing climate that makes days warmer and summer last longer, ticks are thriving. The ticks are able to develop faster, emerge earlier and spread disease quicker.

Ticks are emerging faster and earlier
Ticks are emerging faster and earlier

Over the last 20 years the number of Lyme disease cases has doubled to 30,000. The EPA considers the cases to be an indicator of climate change.

Lyme disease cases increasing
Lyme disease cases increasing

As if ticks weren’t enough, the change in climate is also leading to stronger poison ivy! I have long suffered from an intense reaction to this itchy vine. If you are also one who suffers be aware that higher levels of carbon dioxide stimulate larger, stronger and more damaging growth of poison ivy. While some plants struggle with the higher temps and increase CO2 levels, poison ivy takes to it like Popeye eating spinach. From 1950 to today, the level in CO2 has increased from 300 ppm to 400 ppm. In those same years the surface area of the average poison ivy plant has more than doubled. The oil urushiol, that causes the rash and the itch, has increased by 173%!

More CO2 is having an impact on poison ivy
More CO2 is having an impact on poison ivy

So while you are out trying to enjoy the warm and sunny weather remember that the ticks and the poison ivy are liking it more that you! When you hear about Forecasting Change, greenhouse gases and attempts to slow down warming, it’s not all just about the daytime high. It really is all about everything around you and impacts that you will feel. And those impacts can be very uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.


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