Category Archives: Plants, Pests, Rescue

Feeding them fruit will help butterflies live

Butterflies on orange slice
Andreas Adelmann,

Butterflies can only drink liquids – they don’t eat solid food. So, fill a plate with fruit that’s going bad. Put it inside another plate filled with water so ants can’t get to it. Every day, make cuts through the seals that develop so the butterflies can access the juice.

Also put bright colored objects nearby. Butterflies see colors, especially red, purple, orange and yellow and are attracted by them.

For the larvae, “Plant some milkweed in your garden, and don’t pick off the caterpillars!” Inspiration Green tells us, and “Black Swallowtail larvae eat the leaves of dill, parsley, carrot, and fennel. Painted lady larvae eat thistle leaves.”

Pesticides are killing butterflies, but as most Monarch habitat occurs in agricultural environments, farmers and home gardeners can make a difference.

Seed diversity means food security! Cool little movie tells why

Seed Diversity means Food Security! The best way to provide for enough good food across the globe is to let nature do what it was created to do. Seeds and crops adapt to environmental and geographical changes much better than anything man can invent. So let’s respect nature, and let food be food! If you don’t believe me, watch this little graphic cartoon. It’s very convincing.

Buy a sustainably grown Christmas tree or re-plant one

Want to responsibly handle your Christmas tree purchase and disposal this year? A growing number of people do, so there are options if you’re willing to spend a little extra effort, time and maybe money.

Green America reports that you can buy a cut tree from a family farm that plants “about two trees for every one cut” and grows trees on rocky soil where other crops don’t thrive. “This means that instead of barren land, the farm hosts trees that provide oxygen and combat global warming.” But, you also want an organically grown tree to avoid bringing home harmful toxins or supporting the practice of allowing pesticides and herbicides to contaminate soil and groundwater.

How to find a responsible, organic tree vendor in New Jersey

Maybe you want to replant your tree!

For this laudable goal, take a trip to the Philly area and buy a tree that can be replanted – in your backyard; by donating it back to Tiny Terra Ferma or to a local environmental center like the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education or the Upper Roxborough Reservoir … or replant it in a service event on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on 20 Jan 2014.

Good luck with your responsible Christmas tree hunt and a very Happy Christmas to you! Let us know what your search turns up.

Farmers & people creatively resist GMOs

gmo seed costs moreTwo of the problems farmers face with GMOs is how much they strengthen weeds and insects, and how much they cost. Over time, the amount of pesticides and herbicides farmers use to kill weeds and insects increases as GMO crops become immune to their effect. Modern Farmer shares these chilling statistics,

Between 2001 and 2010, the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch reports, total on-farm herbicide use increased 26 percent as weed resistance grew.

Genetically altered seed producers in the United States and the processed food companies that support them have quadrupled their investments in lobbying efforts and public relations campaigns to fool politicians and the public into believing GMO foods are safe and there’s no need to label them. If that’s true, why are these companies so determined that the public not know that GMOs are in all of the common processed foods they eat and all corn products, most soy products and now, even wheat? Monsanto, Pepsi, Coke, Nestlé and other companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to make sure United States residents do not realize how pervasive GMO contamination has become in the US.

This has led some US crop farmers to return to traditional seeds – not because they believe in a GMO free world, but for economic reasons. GMO seeds cause farmers more out of pocket expense to purchase them and increasing amounts of the pesticides and herbicides they use to protect crops. And, GMO contaminated harvests can’t be sold everywhere. Aside from foreign countries that have banned them, some US buyers won’t touch them either. Modern Farmer explains,

Clarkson Grain, which buys conventional and organic corn and soybeans, pays farmers a premium — up to $2 extra per bushel over the base commodity price of soybeans, $1 for corn — to not only grow the crop but also preserve its identity. (That is, keep it separate from genetically modified grain all the way from planting through harvest, storage and transportation.)

Non-GMO Project
And talks about other players in the non-GMO space. The most interesting of which is the Non-GMO Project. It’s ironically funny that since Monsanto & its friends have successfully blocked most legislation to require GMO labeling, this organization emerged to champion the flip side of the issue with recognition for and labeling of, foods that are GMO free. Modern Farmers tells us that for food producers, the benefits of non-GMO verification are many

Sales at Hiland Naturals, which makes conventional and organic feeds for livestock, have more than doubled since it received Non-GMO Project verification last year. Most of Hiland’s customers are small farmers who sell eggs or meat at farmers markets and natural grocery stores. But many sell birds to Whole Foods and to institutions like colleges. Some of Hiland’s growth, owner Dan Masters says, comes from people wanting to know what they’re eating, some is from pending labeling laws and some is from “people who are tired of big corporations and big agriculture.”

Good on us.

Let’s create a definition of Heirloom plants before Big Ag marketers do

heirloom_seeds1To avoid the term “heirloom” for plants becoming co-opted by marketers or just getting watered down, John Butler of the Heirloom Harvest suggests establishing a clear definition of “heirloom” seeds, plants and cultivars, and policing the term to make sure it remains en pointe. John proposes that although people typically think of heirloom items as old ones, the definition of plants designated as heirloom should be tied not to a timeline, but rather to certain characteristics that remain true of the plant as it moves through generations of cultivation.

… we need a clear definition and to identify where use of the term is straying from that definition … what is an heirloom vegetable and how should we use the term correctly?

…when used in the context of vegetables, the literal meaning of an heirloom cultivar would be “a vegetable cultivar of value passed on from one custodian to the next”. Based on this literal meaning, in order to classify as an heirloom variety … the criteria for a cultivar to classify as an heirloom can be expanded and clarified to:

  • (Has) some intrinsic value.
  • Be open-pollinated or otherwise breed true to type.
  • Not be subject to a patent or plant breeders’ rights.
  • (Will) have its identity and purity maintained over multiple generations of plants and custodians, through careful growing out and seed saving.

The merit of John’s proposal to a static definition of what Heirloom plants are is brought home by Yolanda Verveen’s post about Heirloom seeds. There’s already much confusion about what this term means.

I haven’t yet looked through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Heirloom Vegetables. If you have, please let us know what Chris’ definition is.

Lawns and unsustainable urban buildout are destroying water, bees and us

Two important community issues involving water are the environmental dangers of lawns and the importance of storm drain stewardship.

Storm Drain Stewardship

Jersey City drains to your river
Jersey City storm drain marker drains to your river
Because storm drains in most communities carry stormwater out to natural bodies of water, it’s important to keep as much pollution as possible from entering them. Storm drain marker programs have been established in New Jersey and across the country to help make local residents aware of the environmental value of protecting storm drains and the waterways they are linked with.

What flows into storm drains doesn’t come only from roadway surfaces, though. Water runoff from buildings, walk and driveways and lawns washes into storm drains and watershed areas too and from them – right out into our rivers, streams lakes, estuaries and eventually, our oceans. The Milwaukee Riverkeeper defines watershed as, “…simply the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater.”

Lawn pesticides and fertilizers: A great health hazard

pesticide free zone ladybug signThe enormous quantity of pesticides and over-application of fertilizers on lawns makes them one of the great waterway – and therefor personal – health issues of our time. The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council has a 2007 newspaper article posted on its site cautioning about the health hazards of perfect lawns.

The shimmering green of the finely groomed Long Island lawn may trigger an owner’s pride and neighborhood envy, but it also could pose a serious health risk … Karen Joy Miller, founder of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, said pesticides are particularly dangerous for small children who are low to the ground, often barefoot and likely to put things in their mouths. Miller, a breast cancer survivor, said she suspects her sickness was caused in part by exposure to pesticides.

Natural lawn walk
Natural lawn walk
Beyond Pesticides, an environmental education group, tells us about the hazards of pesticides in landscapes and lawns.

Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system … A 2004 national survey reveals that 5 million homeowners use only organic lawn practices and products and 35 million people use both toxic and non-toxic materials.

Beyond Pesticides offers a toolkit for organizing your community against pesticides and tips for beginning to eliminate pesticides locally and offers this advice:

A growing body of evidence in scientific literature shows that pesticide exposure can adversely affect a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune, and endocrine system, even at low levels. Young children are particularly susceptible because of their rapid growth and decreased ability to detoxify toxins. Fortunately, there are proven safe, effective, and affordable ways to maintain attractive lawns and playable fields without the use of toxic pesticides.

The EPA also offers pesticide reduction tips. Their tips include recommendations to compost and use native plants.
bee pollinating flower

Food supply is being threatened by bee death due to pesticides

Pesticides are dangerous for a number of environmental and health reasons which include the death of bees which society needs to pollinate and grow fruits and vegetables. For the first time this year in California, there were not enough bees on site to pollinate the entire crop of almonds. Weakened immune systems and outright death of bees is being attributed to overuse of pesticides and the reduction of open growth areas in favor of manicured lawns and unsustainably planned cities.

Fertilizers: another big health hazard and their partial ban in New Jersey

Rutgers fertilizer restriction FAQWaterway health depends on the conservation of a delicately balanced ecosystem that must support aquatic plants, fish, seafood and insects as well as the watershed and beach areas surrounding them and the birds and wildlife they support. Over-fertilization of lawns with nitrogen and phosphorous has led to the destruction of waterway health around the country and in New Jersey, some of the nation’s toughest lawn fertilizer laws have been enacted. Rutgers University summarizes the laws in this FAQ. An article summarizes the reasons behind the laws.

Nitrogen and phosphorus, while important for plant growth, are harmful to the environment if they wind up in the water. Nitrogen is a greater threat to coastal water, while phosphorous is more harmful in fresh water. Nitrogen causes algae blooms that deprive water of oxygen and kill marine life, and in New Jersey, environmentalists and scientists said that nitrogen was the primary reason for the slow death of salt water bodies, especially the Barnegat Bay.

Fertilizers in New Jersey may no longer contain phosphorus, except in special circumstances when a soil test indicates need, or when establishing or re-establishing turf …

New Alliance heralds rapid destruction of rural Africa

rural agriculture in AfricaRural life and natural techniques of agriculture in Africa are in imminent danger of disappearing from this continent forever. Industrialized countries have run out of land and easily exploitable communities in their own countries and are now turning their attention to Africa, where they are teaming up with governments of African countries to seize land from villagers, create mono-culture plantation farms, export massive amounts of food. And to force the use of modified seeds, the free distribution and exchange of native seeds is being outlawed.

In plain English, African countries are required to change their trade and agriculture laws to include ending the free distribution of seeds, relax the tax system and national export controls, and open the doors wide for profit repatriation (allowing the money as well as the crops to be exported). In Mozambique, as elsewhere across the continent, local farmers have been evicted from their land under land sales agreements and, according to Guardian newspaper, the country “is now obliged to write new laws promoting what its agreement calls ‘partnerships’ of this kind”

…African nations are required to “change their seed laws, trade laws and land ownership in order to prioritize corporate profits over local food needs”.

…The New Alliance, according to the British prime minister, is “a great combination of promoting good governance and helping Africa to feed its people”. He and the rest of the G8, Friends of the Earth believes, “[pretend] to be tackling hunger and land grabbing in Africa while backing a scheme that will ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of small farmers”. This new deal is “a pro-corporate assault on African nations”, providing “investment and support” opportunities for greedy investors looking to further expand their corporate assets with the support of participating governments.

…True investment in Africa is investment in the people of Africa: the smallholder farmers, the women and children, and the communities across the continent. It involves working collectively, consulting, encouraging participation and, crucially, sharing – sharing knowledge, experience, technology, land, food, water and minerals equitably among the people of Africa and indeed the wider world.

To date, 9 of 54 African nations have entered into “New Alliance” agreements, including

Ethiopia, where wide ranging human rights violations, including forced displacement and rapes, have reportedly accompanied land sales…

Monsanto responsible for Indian farmer suicidesIn India, farmers who find themselves embroiled in mounting debt from the use of GMO seeds commit suicide at the rate of one every 30 minutes. How will African farmers react when they discover the ramifications of the seed agreements being forced on them?

The only seeds available in India now are GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which require farmers to pay an annual royalty each time they are replanted. The GMOs need additional fertilizers, and as the seasons move forward, more insecticides and pesticides. The soil in which these seeds are planted requires more water. All of which means more and more money for the farmer to lay out.

… Another story weaving in and out of the film is that of a neighboring girl in college who has recently lost her father to suicide, an end claiming lives all over India’s farmlands. She wants to tell his story, along with the stories of all the other suicide victims in the area. Her research and intuition have shown her that at the root of these suicides are GMO seeds.

Also see “Lack of conventional seeds enlarges Bt cotton area” and Bitter Seeds (the movie)

You too can be a New Jersey Environmental Steward

Would you like to understand the relationship between pollution, grass nutrients, construction, flooding, deer, wildlife, denuded forests and Lyme disease in New Jersey? You can learn all this and more in Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s New Jersey Environmental Steward program. It will be offered this year in Atlantic, Warren, and Somerset counties from January through June at a cost of $280.

Duke Farms Environmental Steward sign with antique carWhen my son Ivan and I took the training in 2011, we happily made the trip once a week for 20 weeks to amazing Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ (Somerset County). We took classes in a beautiful, high-ceilinged carriage house in the estate’s administration building. Learning and being at Duke Farms made those weeks some of the most special of my life. I’d gladly do it again at the drop of a hat – except I’m too busy now doing environmental steward work!

Imagine being able to discuss climate change first hand with New Jersey’s State Climatologist and learn about the importance of native species from a specialist with national recognition? Stewards in training learn about the way soils affect plant growth and cause environmental conditions from the person who runs Rutgers’ Soil Testing laboratory. They also get a crash course on how local environmental decisions are made and how land preservation laws work in our state.

Rutgers Environmental Stewardship program brochureRegistration is already open for the 2013 Environmental Stewardship program. It will be held at locations in Warren, Somerset and Atlantic Counties, and you register by directly contacting the coordinator at the location of your choice. I wish everyone could have the chance to enjoy this extraordinary opportunity to learn about environmental challenges and the conservation measures that can solve them with some of New Jersey’s finest environmental scientists and advocates. I hope that I will be congratulating at least a few of my friends at next year’s graduation. If you have any questions, just ask.

Warren/North Training Location
RCE of Warren County, 165 Rt 519 South, Belvidere, NJ 07823

Normal Class Time: Thursdays, January to May, 2011; 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Cost: $280

Contact: Milly Rice,
Ag and Resource Mgmt. Secretary, 908-475-6505

Central/Duke Training Location
Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ

Normal Class Time: Tuesdays, January to May, 2008; 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Cost: $280
Contact: Rosalie Kelly
Duke Farms Foundation, 80 Route 206, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 908-243-3602

Coastal Region Training Location
Atlantic County Utility Authority, 6700 Delilah Road , Egg Harbor Twp NJ

Normal Class Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Cost: $280
Contact: Amy Menzel,
PO join 996 Pleasantville, NJ 08232, 609.272.6950 ext 6934

Found a baby bird orphan?

Whew, baby animals are so hard to take care of! Their little stomachs are delicate and small, so we need to be careful what we feed them and feed them often (as often as every 15 minutes if they’re weak). Baby birds are the most delicate of all wildlife we might find orphaned, because birds are so different from us we can’t even imagine what they should be eating or how to give them liquids without drowning them. We definitely need the advice of experts to make sure we’re helping – not harming – them.

Experts share advice through websites and you can reach out to avian rehabilitators in your area too. Some will agree to look at a photo of your foundling and then share personalized handling and feeding tips with you by phone. If your bird is lucky, it will be identified as something fairly exotic and a wildlife rescue individual or agency will offer to take it in and raise it to adulthood. Otherwise, you will need to care for that little guy yourself. Avian rehabilitators are all situated in rural areas, too, so be prepared to drive 1/2 hour to 3 hours to get your little friend to an expert caretaker, if handing her over seems to be the best or legally indicated course of action for you.

Most important tips are:

  • Keep the baby bird warm, but don’t overheat it
  • Keep body supported – as they’re too easily breakable
  • Feed every 30-60 minutes during daylight hours (15 min. intervals for very weak birds).

The Smithsonian National Zoo gives these instructions on caring for nestling baby songbirds

Babies with no feathers, a little fuzz, or pinfeathers need a soft, snug, cup-shaped nest of tissue in a small container—don’t use cotton, grass, or existing bird nests. The cup shape is necessary to support their bodies, sprawling may cause them injury. Plastic berry containers make an excellent framework for a tissue nest and are easily cleaned. Warm chilled nestlings in your hands, then put them in the tissue-nest container and put it on a heating pad (low setting) or hot water bottle or under a light. Never put them in direct sunlight—they may overheat. Put the nest (and pad) in a larger box for safety. Handle the birds only when necessary. They should always feel warm to the touch.

The Animal Rehabilitators Alliance of New Jersey says:

If you find a baby bird/birds which have fallen out of the nest that are not injured and you can reach the nest, you can gently put them back into the nest and the mother will accept them. You can wear gloves to do this, but if you do touch them, it is fine. It is a wives tale that the mother will not come back.

If the nest is destroyed, but was in a reachable location, you can tie a basket (open weave) to a tree branch near the area where the original nest was located. Put the old nest in the basket for the babies to sit in. Watch the nest for about 20 minutes to be sure a parent has found the babies and will take care of them.

Jim Six writes in a article:

You could, without a permit, hand raise a starling or a house sparrow, neither of which is native … It’s messy and noisy and a 16-hour-a-day job. Parent birds feed their babies more or less constantly during daylight hours, for the few weeks it takes to do the job. Most humans have other things to do.

Here are starting points for finding an Avian rehabilitator in New Jersey. Always remember to ask anyone you have the chance to speak with if they know of someone closer to your geographical region. Do not attempt to drop off birds or other wildlife anywhere without making prior arrangements.

Let me know if this information was timely and helpful, and good luck!

Too many deer, forest damage and Lyme disease

It’s worthwhile for people who are spending time out of doors to learn about ticks and Lyme disease. Northeast states share this problem, and there are two solutions for it: prevent tick bites in people and lower the population of infected ticks by controlling the population of animals that are the largest source of Lyme disease (mice, our region’s Lyme generation machines) and deer (which, because of their abundance and mobility carry them too far and too wide). Lyme is transmitted through infected ticks which attach themselves to the bodies of mice, deer and other warm mammals, like us. Mice produce the bacteria that cause Lyme disease in human, though; deer are just carriers.

In a healthy forest environment the balance of ecology provides homes to the many different species of plants, insects, bird and wildlife, and each species exists in proportionate and harmonious balance. But in our region woodlands have been destroyed, and deer are directly responsible for the very recent, rapid and sharp decline in their health. Because there are way too many deer – up to 4 times the number our forests can support – there are too many of them feeding on the low growing vegetation which makes up the forest understory. This loss of vegetation is the first step in a degenerative cycle of woodland habitat destruction that leads to the overgrowth of opportunistic, invasive species like mice, deer and the “mile a minute” ivy that’s literally choking the life out of thousands of our trees. These invasions are symptoms of an unhealthy ecosystem.

This is how the cycle plays out: when there are too many deer in a forest, they eat up all of the young tree growth, plants and bushes which collectively are known as the understory. This means the loss of insects living in, on and from these plants plus the loss of the berries, seeds and nuts that some of them produce. Birds, reptiles and some small rodents need these food sources to survive. Deprived of them, they either abandon their homes for “greener pastures” or their populations simply fade away. With less of those small creatures, predators which consume them – like foxes and hunting birds – can’t get enough to eat either, and their populations too begin to disperse or dwindle. Some experts advocate getting rid of deer in order to get rid of ticks. Others say that it’s mice we need to worry most about.

For balance, I’d like to interject my friend Brenda Cummings’ comment about deer’s role in forest habitat destruction: “Unfortunately, humans didn’t really need much help from the deer while destroying the ecology of the planet.”

The mice will play!

What do the mice say? No predators? Wow! Fantastic conditions for growth of the versatile and highly adaptive mouse population. In a healthy ecosystem, native species either crowd out or eat up glutonnous invaders, but when there isn’t enough strength or numbers in the native ecosystem inhabitants to effectively combat opportunistic species’ intrusion and arrest their expansion, those species take advantage of symbiotic collaborations to expand rapidly. This is how ticks benefit from one such cycle:

Mice with their hot little bodies are great breeding grounds for ticks, and deer come into the tick encroachment picture as convenient conveyances for those little suckers. Due to a decline in natural predators from habitat destruction and hunting restrictions, the deer population has exploded. Ticks jump onto deer and catch free rides to the grassy fields and lawns where they wait to attach themselves to adults and children walking through – and infect a growing number of victims with Lyme disease. The presence of so many deer ensures that little understory vegetation will remain in forests: and this leads back to fewer insects, berries, nuts and seeds… Northern Woodlands Magazine tells us,

Foresters often have a front-row view of the damage “too many” deer can cause to the landscape. Wildflowers, such as trillium and showy lady’s slippers, can be especially hard hit. “Each adult white-tailed deer eats about 2,000 pounds a year,” says Charlie Fiscella, New York State chapter president of the Quality Deer Management Association “That’s one ton. Go out with clippers and see how long it takes you to clip one ton. It’s hard to do that, especially when the habitat is marginal.”

The Nature Conservancy is just finishing up a study finding that deer are one of the top threats to a healthy forest in New York State, and that oak and maple seedlings are a deer’s favored food source. Since woodlot owners and foresters are also fond of oaks and maples, the deer’s impact is deeply felt. As these commercially valuable hardwood species start disappearing, forest composition can be skewed to favor birch, beech, and hophornbeam.

When deer pressure is overwhelming, you get no seedling regeneration at all. This allows invasive species to fill the void and dominate the ecosystem. As the invasives grow, the deer continue to eat native plants and avoid the invasives, thus giving the invasives a perpetual advantage.

People who spend a lot of time in fields and woods understand how dangerous Lyme disease is and check for ticks carefully after each outdoor exposure, but suburban and city dwellers don’t know how important it is to do this. Lyme takes time to develop and doesn’t manifest itself right away, but it is a very serious illness with many long-term implications. Because ticks don’t move and their attachment doesn’t hurt, most people don’t know when one has attached to them until it’s become huge from eating, which can take a while. A tick should be removed before it has been attached for 24 hours, the time needed to infect a person with Lyme.

Bard College biology professor Felicia Keesing and scientist Richard S. Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, explain why mice are more dangerous in the tick transmittal cycle than are deer, and also why the most effective method for controlling the mouse population is promoting the health of a natural forest ecosystem and sufficient forest land.

… ticks are only dangerous if they are infected, and deer play no role in infecting ticks. Ticks become infected with the Lyme disease bacterium by feeding on small mammals such as white-footed mice, chipmunks, and shrews. And mice play the additional role of increasing tick survival — they are at the opposite extreme from opossums, which kill the vast majority of ticks they encounter. When our group compared the importance of deer, mice, and climate in determining the number of infected ticks over 13 years in southeastern New York State, mice were the winners hands down.

Other compelling reasons exist for controlling deer populations, such as reducing vehicle accidents and increasing forest regeneration. But, in many Lyme disease zones, reducing the deer herd is unlikely to substantially affect tick abundance. Reducing mice is more likely to be effective.

This is best accomplished by allowing natural predators like weasels, coyotes, foxes, and owls to do the job. And the best way to increase their numbers is to maximize the size of forest patches. A number of other ways of reducing risk are currently being tested by our group and others, including the use of natural products such as soil fungi to kill ticks without adverse environmental impacts and the use of vaccines against Lyme disease that can be delivered to wildlife.

The deer population is critical in New Jersey, where we have 40 deer per square mile in our forests. Rutgers University Cooperative Extension Agent Bruce Barbour explains, “When any woodland deer population exceed 20 deer per square mile, the forest become unsustainable. Deer denude the forests by eating away all of the understory vegetation, which includes young saplings that are meant to mature over time to replace aging or damaged trees in the forest canopy. The long term effect of understory destruction will be sparser forests, but the short term effect is immediate destruction of habitat for insects, birds and wildlife, and the health threat of an increase in Lyme disease.”
In the Dover, Massachussetts woods, 25 deer per square mile is enough to cause serious problems too. The Boston Globe reported,

In Dover, where the deer population is almost three times the levels recommended by state wildlife officials and cases of Lyme disease have increased sharply, officials last week lifted restrictions on bow hunting on some public land to begin the town’s first “deer culling.’’

The hunt is strictly regulated, and will probably harvest only about 50 deer. But in a region with limited affection for deer hunting, and doubts about its safety in well-traveled woods, it shows that personal health concerns are gaining the upper hand.

“Five years ago, we couldn’t have done this,’’ said Barbara Roth-Schechter, head of the town’s health board. “People would have shot it down. But there’s been an exponential increase in Lyme disease, and people are fed up.’’

Dover has expansive forests that have become overrun with deer, roughly 25 per square mile, and a surging rate of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites.


Recommendations for avoiding tick bites from the Illinois Department of Public Health

Make your own, natural tick repellent with this recipe from eHow. But be careful, essential oils may not be healthy for cats, so check with your vet before using near them.

The Federal Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tick information page offers lots of good tips on how to avoid contact with ticks. They also advocate the use of DEET, a chemical repellant which has potential dangerous side effects – so maybe ignore that part.

How to remove a tick!
Not recommended: touching it with a hot match. Rather, use pointed tip tweezers near the tick’s head – where it attaches to your body – and keep pulling until it lets go and becomes detached. Then freeze that bad boy in case you need to produce it later for testing. This how-to video is a little gross, but can be really helpful in time of need. offers detailed written instructions for removal.