As ticks latch onto kids -- not to mention their parents and
pets -- in big numbers this year, at least one middle school
has decided there's a little too much nature out there.
But the bloodsucking creatures haven't otherwise put too big
a damper on spring field trips, despite a marked rise in their
ranks in the Capitol Region this season.Guilderland's Farnsworth
Middle School canceled a trip to the Albany Pine Bush after
a group of seventh-graders returned with several ticks, said
Erin Kinal, educational outreach director for the Pine Bush
preserve. A Boy Scout troop also canceled a hike in the pine
barrens this spring, she said.
"It was definitely a very active year for ticks,"
said Kinal, who said the mite-size creatures are being found
in more areas than usual. "But we do have schools that
come out regardless, that take the precautions and check students"
when they return.
Most local schools have been undeterred from taking trips this
spring but are carefully following guidelines to prevent tick
bites, which can lead to potentially fatal Lyme disease.
"We can't do anything really about the ticks, but we can
thoroughly check ourselves when we're in the woods," said
Pine Bush Conservation Director Neil Gifford. "If you remove
ticks within 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is
On a two-hour trip through the Pine Bush last week, Gifford
picked at least one small black tick from his light-colored
shirt, a few minutes after a reporter found one on her blue
Gifford said the ticks seem to flock to invasive species like
locust trees and their "clones" -- shoots that grow
off their root system -- which form a shady canopy over parts
of the preserve.
"I think it's because the white-footed mice and deer prefer
the closed canopy," he said. "There's a definite correlation
between ticks and locust clones."
Students who come to the preserve on trips typically help eliminate
invasive species by stripping bark off locusts, or cultivate
native flora. Last week, the Wildwood School in Colonie brought
native plants to the preserve that students grew.
At Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar, which
sees about 3,000 students each spring, no trips have been canceled,
said educator Anita Sanchez. Once a week the tall grass around
the center's 400-plus acres are swept with large nets to monitor