Management of Ticks in the Northeast

Worksite Location
CCE Suffolk, Suffolk County Dept. of Public Works - Vector Control
Project Dates
May 28, 2018 – August 10, 2018
Faculty Sponsor
Laura Harrington
Other Campus-Based Mentors/Supervisors
Laura Harrington
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Dan Gilrein, CCE Suffolk
Stipend Amount
$4,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works (SC DPW) Division of Vector Control is developing a tick surveillance program and conducting field efficacy trials of tick control products. The surveillance program is intended to inform the County’s and others’ responses to growing tick populations and incidence of tick-borne disease.  In addition to actual efficacy assessments, the trials will provide a standard protocol for continued field research to more accurately determine control and best management strategies based upon more objective comparisons among products, application rates and other variables such as timing and environmental conditions. Around the Northeast, most effort has focused on deer (blacklegged) tick; work on Long Island also includes studies on lone stars, which are now abundant in eastern Suffolk. As the range of this species has now expanding to parts of CT, RI and MA, this work is expected to be of particular interest as human encounters in other areas increase.  CCE of Suffolk County staff are cooperating with the SC DPW Tick Entomologist on tick-related work where there very strong interest from residents and commercial landscape care professionals.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student intern will assist with aspects of the field survey and efficacy trials. Activities associated with this internship include flagging, dragging, and other tick sampling and collecting methods; collection of environmental and other data; and development of public outreach strategies. Activities will be conducted across Suffolk County surveillance plot sites. The student will work closely with Moses Cucura, Tick Entomologist with SC DPW Division of Vector Control, and prior to initiating field activities will receive training on tick-borne diseases, personal safety around ticks, and handling of specimens. In addition, work may include assistance with seasonal pathogen surveillance activities with partners at the Suffolk County Department of Health.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

No prior coursework is necessary, although knowledge of field biology and entomology is desirable. The successful candidate will need to meet travel requirements of the internship and able to observe basic personal safety protections handling ticks and in environments where ticks are common and sometimes abundant.

Benefits and Skills

The student intern will gain hands-on field experience with a real-world public health entomology program, including vector management and surveillance activities in the field and field research with direct mentorship from public health entomologists and Cornell Extension educators. At the end of this internship period, the intern will be able to identify regional tick species, describe pathogens carried by these ticks relevant to human and animal health, safely handle and work around ticks, and learn how to conduct and interpret efficacy trials. In addition, the intern will learn key components of a public health surveillance program and how to translate data and information to public outreach materials and management plans.