Problems With Invasive Species

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tick thumbnailLYNDONVILLE - Ticks have become a growing problem for the Northeast Kingdom, being realistic they have become a much larger problem for the entire region of New England, especially last year. The tick population grew exponentially last year, and there were more reports of ticks infesting both humans and animals, including both pets and wild game. The animals most affected were ground rodents such as mice, chipmunks and squirrels, but other species were negatively affected as well.

The Moose population took a very large hit, and many died of disease because their hides were infested with the blood-sucking arachnids. Due to this, the Moose hunting season was almost cancelled for the 2018 Vermont season. The worst aspect of ticks in Vermont is that they are expected to be even worse this year.


In a recent interview, Alan Giese, an invasive species expert and college professor at Lyndon State College, has been working with ticks for many years, and can say that so far, this year is showing signs for a major tick population. "Due to the weather so far this year... it is looking like there will be a very large abundance of ticks," Geise explained. "Ticks enjoy shaded areas with a vast undergrowth of vegetation on the forest floor. Also, due to ticks having a great need for moisture, a very wet spring can mean a much larger tick population."

Beyond the weather, Giese went on to talk about how the winter season has also made prime conditions for ticks to re-populate. "Ticks bed down in the ground over the winter, they can easily survive underneath a good snowpack. It is when you have frigid and barren winters with very little snow and exposed grounds that ticks will perish."

However, Giese went on to explain the problems with a thick layer of snow on the ground. "If you've ever slept in an igloo or in a snow tunnel then you know for a fact that snow is very good at retaining heat; and with six inches to a foot of snow constantly covering the ground the earth will maintain a temperature around twenty-eight degrees.

"Moving away from just ticks as a main focus there have been multiple reports of other invasive species making their way to the great, not-so-white north. One invasive species that has become much more prevalent and will surely cause issues with local fauna are the Emerald Ash-Borers, which have been found in two Vermont counties. For years state officials have been expecting the destructive emerald ash borer to turn up in Vermont. Tuesday, the state announced it has found an infestation of the insect in part of the town of Orange, Vermont. The Emerald Ash-Borer has been found in 31 other states including states like New Hampshire which borders Vermont and the Province of Quebec. The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation have been quoted saying that the Emerald Ash-Borer, 'could have significant ecological and economic impacts' in Vermont."

It is hard to imagine over thirty different types of Vermont trees being in danger due to the Emerald Ash-Borer, but this is also not the only issue that Vermont is facing. There is another invasive species that has been found near Vermont borders, and this next invasive species could mean the end to Maple trees if they continue their trek north.

The snake-worm, which was given its name due to its comparative length and movements compared to the common earthworm, is a major danger to Maple trees in Vermont. The primary reason is due to how snake-worms feed on nutritious soils. While earthworms digest soil and waste and leave nutrients in soil that aid plants in growth, the snake-worm does almost the exact opposite. Instead of leaving nutrients behind in the soil they seek these minerals out and digest it themselves, leaving soils barren and without nutrients to feed plants and other fauna.

The issue connects to Maple trees in that the Maple Trees in Vermont depend on nutritious soils in order to grow and stay alive. Because of this, most of the soils surrounding Maple Trees tend to be very high in nutrients, as well as earthworms. If snake-worms become prominent in our area, they could potentially deplete the nutrients which are so abundant in the ground beneath our feet, and the fallout would be devastating to the Vermont Maple Industry.

Luckily, there are agriculture groups and scientists looking into and researching the spread of these invasive species, so far we are not in any real danger, however depending on the next few years, which will be critical in how Vermont reacts to these species, it could all change with the direction of the wind.