News Releases - Environment, Weather & Nature
Written by Brad Anderson   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 12:02
Climate Change Has Led to Increases in Ticks, Mosquitos & Poison Ivy

DES MOINES, Iowa – Today, in a statewide conference call with Iowa media the Iowa Wildlife Federation released a report detailing the increases in ticks, mosquitos, fire ants and poison ivy due to climate change.  The report, titled “Ticked Off – America’s Outdoor Experience and Climate Change,” was produced by the National Wildlife Federation, which includes 49 state affiliates and more than four million members committed to protecting wildlife and connecting Americans with nature.

Leading the call was Joe Wilkinson, past President of the Iowa Wildlife Federation.  Joining Wilkinson was Dr. Yogesh Shah, Associate Dean of the Department of Global Health at Des Moines University, and Frank Szollosi, Regional Outreach Manager for the National Wildlife Federation based in Ann Arbor, MI.

EXCERPT FROM REPORT: “Extreme weather is becoming more common. Droughts and floods are more severe and more frequent. Winter snow is melting away earlier in the spring and fall weather is slower and slower to come about. These and other aspects of climate change are impacting the plants and wildlife that are a central component of the American outdoor experience. We might like an early spring, but so do tiger mosquitoes with their bothersome presence and bites. An Indian summer may be welcomed by us, but it helps winter ticks survive in huge numbers…enough to suck more blood out of a moose than its body contains. Warm winters are a welcome mat for fire ants and deer ticks to expand their range northward where they can inflict pain or disease on unsuspecting people and wildlife. Poison ivy, which we always steer away from, is growing faster and becoming even more toxic, thanks to the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

“Every increase in temperature by a degree or two increases mosquito populations by eight to tenfold,” said Dr. Yogesh Shah.  “Just like mosquitos, ticks tend to grow faster when it is humid and warm, and last year we had a 40 percent increase in Lyme disease in Iowa compared to the previous year.  If we keep the status quo, climate change will get worse and we will start seeing diseases that we never dreamed about.  If we do what climate scientists recommend to mitigate climate change, mosquito and tick populations will eventually come down.” 

“Climate change is not so subtle anymore,” said Joe Wilkinson on today’s press call.  “Now the question is what are we going to do about it and when.  I hope this report will raise public awareness and make sure Iowans understand the significant impacts of climate change to our wildlife and public health.”


Joe Wilkinson: Joe Wilkinson, President of the Iowa Wildlife Federation, is a lifelong Iowan from Solon, Iowa.  Wilkinson is an avid outdoorsman and a regular contributor to Iowa Outdoors Magazine.

Dr. Yogesh Shah: Dr. Yogesh Shah is the Associate Dean for Global Health at Des Moines University, a position created in 2006 to establish global health experiences that DMU students increasingly seek.  Dr. Shah has been instrumental in establishing the City of Des Moines as a member of the World Health Organization’s network of age-friendly cities.  He also led the creation of the Heartland Global Health Consortium, and the creation of Heartland Climate Health Consortium, a collaborative of Iowa educational institutions to promote the effect of climate change on nutrition and human health.

Frank Szollosi: Frank Szollosi is the Regional Outreach Campaigns Manager for National Wildlife Federation based in Ann Arbor, and works with a team of public policy and advocacy professionals to build the power of the conservation movement to mitigate the risks climate change presents wildlife, habitat and communities.  Frank previously served as a Press Secretary on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and was elected twice himself to serve as a Toledo City Councilman.   He recently earned a Master's of Science and Master's of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

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