Cornell creating tick ID app for smartphones

08/23/2014 12:00 PM |
Lone star ticks, seen here at different life stages, are among the most abundant tick on the East End. (Credit: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

Lone star ticks, seen here at different life stages, are among the most abundant tick on the East End. (Credit: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County)

Is that a tick, a chigger, or a tiny spider?

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is working on creating a handy smartphone app to help East Enders get an answer to that question and many more with the touch of a button. (Spoiler alert: There are no chiggers on Long Island.)

Funded by a New York State Integrated Pest Management Program grant, the app will help users to identify ticks commonly found in the area.

Marie Boulier, an extension educator at Cornell said the app — which will be available as a free download come November — will show Long Island’s three most abundant ticks during all their life stages: the dog tick, the deer tick, and the Lone star tick.

Known as “Tick Click,” users can see photos of the ticks with information about the disease pathogens they could be carrying, with helpful hints for safe removal, information on repellants and links to informational websites, she said.

“The one that seems to have taken over is the Lone star tick,” she said. “It is even out in the sun, you don’t usually think you’re going to find ticks out in the sun.”

Ms. Boulier said Cornell received the $8,000 grant in May. The research center is using a portion of the grant to help fund its ongoing educational workshops that relate to both tick and mosquito safety.

The hour-long workshops address long-held myths about the vectors for disease, and will to set the record straight on “chiggers,” which Ms. Boulier said do not actually exist on Long Island.

The tiny, itchy bites some have been unlucky enough to endure are actually that of Lone star tick larvae, Ms. Boulier said.

“There’s a misconception and were finding that even those in the medical community are telling patients otherwise,” she said.

She said the workshops also touch on different options of repellant, as not all repellants fend off both ticks and mosquitoes.

“It is valuable if you’re out there shopping for a product to know what active ingredients to look for,” she said.

Two workshops have been scheduled on the North Fork: Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Riverhead Cornell building at 423 Griffing Avenue, and 10 a.m. Sept. 16 at the Suffolk County Learning Center at Cedar Beach in Southold.

For more information call Marie Boulier at 727-7850, ext. 212.

cmiller@timesreview.com