Public health officials are urging use of bug repellent this season as cases of tick and mosquito-borne disease are on the rise.
The insects have been expanding their range across the U.S., including here in the Northeast, and a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a significant increase in reported infections.
More moderate winters are likely to blame, allowing ticks and mosquitos to thrive in areas that would have previously been uninhabitable. The temperature of the coldest winter nights here in New England has been increasing dramatically, said Dartmouth Biology Professor Matt Ayres.
That's a factor that often limits insects' success.
He and others are urging more research, specifically on what’s allowing certain species to thrive. "This is definitely a place where some good science would be very practical," Ayres said.
Aside from warming temperatures, shifting land use and other aspects may be contributing to the change. New England has become significantly more forested over the last century, for example, which has expanded habitat for deer and other animals that carry ticks.