Last Halloween, biology students at U-32 High School in Montpelier, Vermont, got all decked out – not to go trick or treating – but in a search for deer ticks. They donned Tyvek protective suits as part of a survey of ticks at four popular recreation areas in central Vermont, in a study designed by their teacher, Maggie Desch, to estimate the potential threat of Lyme Disease in the area. Students dragged meter-square pieces of corduroy cloth along the ground or over vegetation along 100-meter transects to catch ticks.
Trish Hanson, of the Forest Biology Lab of the state’s Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, said, “I went out with one class when they surveyed in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park and I was so impressed with the care they took and the thoroughness of their work.” The students didn’t turn up any ticks in 2005, but the study will be done annually, and a new set of 10th graders will be out there again this year. And maybe once again one of their days in the field will be on Halloween.