The black legged tic, aka Ixodes scapularis, does not typically elicit positive reactions from those who encounter it, as it’s one of the main culprits of Lyme disease. For Justin Pool, a Ph.D. candidate working at the Louis Calder Center, the tiny parasite has occupied his attention for the past seven years for a very good reason.
Over a two period, ticks undergo a series of changes as they emerge from eggs, seek out a blood meal from mice or larger animals, and mature from from larvae to nymph and adult. They typically go dormant for a single winter, but he noted that they have the ability to survive a second freeze if the need arises.
“You’re getting two overwintering periods for each tick cohort. So its really complex, and its really efficient when you see how successful this parasite has been in nature.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Calder Center, we sat down with Pool to learn more about his research there.