May 9th – Guest Post about medical arthropod bycatch and updates

Hello everyone!

This week, our student worker R. Dini is doing a guest post on two groups of bycatch that we have found in our bowls that are of medical importance. See the information below.

Ticks and Mosquitoes; Diseases in Central Ohio by R. Dini 

An American dog tick found in the kit by D. Winstel

In one of our recent bycatch we have discovered an American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), one of the most common ticks found in wooded areas and fields. The America Dog tick is the most common tick in Central Ohio. It carries a bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) which is presented as a fever followed by a distinct rash. There were only 23 confirmed cases of RMSF in Ohio last year. These ticks are more likely to be out during spring and summer seasons while being dormant during the fall and winter seasons. 

A Lone Star tick photographed by MaLisa

The Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is mostly in Southern Ohio and are found mainly in grasslands. One of the most common diseases developed through the bite of a Lone star tick is ehrlichiosis. It often presents as a fever within 14 days of a tick bite. In 2018, 1,700 people were diagnosed with ehrlichiosis in the United States

Of course, there is also Lyme disease, which is vectored by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). There were 39 verified cases of Lyme disease in humans in Ohio in 2020Although it can be hard to tell if you have been bitten by a tick some signs include redness or irritation at the site of the bite that can look like a blister. A small area of redness might not be something to worry about but if the area expands it is time to see a doctor. Symptoms of an infected tick bite can take anywhere from 24 hours to 3 weeks to occur. Before going outside and into the woods this summer be sure to prepare by using some form of insect repellent and safe clothing. Be sure to always do a tick check once you return from outside. 

(Editor’s note: be sure to also check your dogs for ticks! Many dogs can get both Lyme and Ehrlichiosis, which MaLisa found out the hard way after her dog tested positive for both) 

Thankfully, we have not found that many ticks in our bowl trap samples, which is not that surprising as ticks are attracted to carbon dioxide, so unlikely to randomly find our cups. 

We don’t have any photos of the mosquitos that have been caught in the traps since the mosquitos squish so much. However, here is a photo of an Aedes mosquito feeding on MaLisa after she set her traps last year.

 We have also gotten a few mosquitoes in our traps. Though most mosquitoes are likely able to escape the traps since they are used to escaping water when they go from pupa to adultMosquitos carry various diseases, some of which can be fatal. One of the most common diseases carried by mosquitos in Ohio would be the West Nile Virus (WNV) which is commonly transmitted through the Northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens), though many other mosquito species are also vectors. There were only 3 cases of WNV in humans in Ohio in 2020.

Mosquitos can be quite colorful with ornate patterns, like this Aedes albopictus mosquito from central Ohio.

It is hard to identify mosquitos to species as they are small and difficult to see diagnostic characters. Mosquitos are most abundant in the summer months up until early October. Their loud buzzing can be extremely annoying and are often found in areas near water as they are known to inhabit these places to lay eggs. The best method to avoid having a surplus of mosquitos around your area would be to get rid of sitting water (including cleaning gutters) and install screens to windows to minimize travel of insects within your home.

Bowl Progress Updates: 

Last week we finished sorting 5 kits:  the rest of the kit by D. Heistand (Darke County), D. Drum (Clark County), J. Richards (Adams County), MaLisa Spring (Muskingum County), and Denise Ellsworth (Stark County). We are over 25,372 bees pinned and databased! We have also now sorted over 62 kits and we are slowly picking up speed.

Since we had a guest post this week, I will save the bycatch information from these kits and post about them next week.

We also made it out to Dawes to grab more kits from their freezer that they have been letting us use. We finally cleared out most of our lab freezer, so we needed a few more kits to sort.

Our lab freezer was finally looking sparse after delivering the bycatch and sorting through so many kits!

We have made decent progress in clearing out the chest freezer at Dawes, which is about half empty now too!

Helping in the lab in the age of Covid:

We had three volunteers in our lab this week! We greatly appreciate their help processing specimens. I know everyone wants to go out and enjoy the nice weather now, so any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to everyone this week who helped us pin even more specimens!

Wondering how you can help speed up our process? If you would like to come to the lab in Newark, there are several tasks that people can participate in. We will mostly have people start with pinning bees, but people can also be trained to sort bees from bycatch in samples, label specimens, or other lab tasks.

You do not have to be a collector to help out in the lab. You also do not have to help for the entire timeslot for a particular day, so if you are only interested in helping out for an hour or three, that still works. No one is obligated to spend the whole day pinning bees.

The lab is open to people interested in helping pin or sort specimens on a limited basis. The following caveats must be reached: 1)  you have been vaccinated against covid, or 2) you have already gotten covid and recovered. If you fit one of these exceptions and want to come to the lab to help out, please sign up here:

Note we are still required to have masks on while on OSU property. We are still limiting our rooms to a maximum of 3 people, but we have additional classrooms down the hall to expand our capacity if more people want to volunteer at once.

Want to see how to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ohio? See the vaccine distribution website here:

All for now,


2 thoughts on “May 9th – Guest Post about medical arthropod bycatch and updates

  1. One of Ohio’s confirmed Lyme disease cases in 2020 was me. I contracted it at the end of May last year, possibly from one of my survey trips putting out bee bowls. Be careful out there. There are a LOT of deer ticks (black legged ticks) around my area of southern Stark County and Carroll county. Adult black legged ticks are smaller than dog ticks, and the more immature life stages of the black legged ticks- the ones most likely to transmit Lyme disease to you- are even smaller.

    • Ahh, I think I remember you saying that! It is definitely not something we want to mess around with and a terrible disease.

      I have somehow not gotten any blacklegged ticks on me (that I have noticed), but I also am not often in that part of Ohio. My most common ticks are dog ticks followed by lone star and a single gulf coast tick.

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