Disease Ecology | SciShow Talk Show

hello and welcome to scishow talk show that day where we talk to interesting people about interesting stuff here on scishow today we're talking to Angie Lewis professor of wildlife biology at the University of Montana hi Angie how are you doing good ah so I would never I'll be honest have thought that your job existed you study wildlife biology yes but how it connects to public health of human beings that's right I wouldn't have gone there of course of course I know that there are things in nature that can give me diseases and of course it is important that we studied that relationship and like what are the things that lead to those but give me some examples of diseases I can get from nature oh there unfortunately there are many okay yeah I know about that one transmitted from white-footed mice to humans things like wait bird yeah it comes from ticks though okay yes but it starts in mice yeah so mice are the main reservoir and ticks transmitted between mice but also between mice and other things like between mice and humans but if we're gonna make one of the things extinct forever I would choose the ticks yeah if I was gonna make any animal extinct forever it would probably Miskito but they're very important and spreading lots of nasty things yeah you wouldn't be alone in that either yeah but they also are really important food sources for some really cool things like that but bats they eat something else we just like breed a bunch of moths nice moss for the last best bats it couldn't say bats to eat what else can I get from nature bird flu Ebola I thought I got bird flu from like a chicken coop yeah but the chickens get it from yeah wildlife bird flu Ebola it's a is is everything like so this is interesting to me the way that diseases pop around from species to species and I guess you know we're all related so that makes sense but are there diseases that are just human diseases or they all come from animals there definitely are plenty of diseases which are just human diseases right okay the cold okay iris I have one of those right now yeah so measles yeah these are things that you know maybe at one point in the very distant past from animals but have been in humans for a really long time and animals are not important at all okay but there are a number of other diseases which spillover from animals to humans and then get transmitted among humans there are a number of diseases that spillover from animals into humans and then there's not a lot of onward transmission so I can get it from a bird but then I can't give it to somebody else I should spend less time with the birds yeah being that close so you are studying how like an ecosystem and like the composition of an ecosystem can affect the prevalence of disease being transmitted among did you call them reservoir species yeah so a reservoir of infectious disease means it's it's the main sort of population that's important for maintaining the infection so it's spread among that population so what I brought up Lyme disease the white-footed mice are the most important kind of hosts in nature for it so ticks are important in spreading it from Mouse to Mouse but without the mice we wouldn't have the infection okay so do we need to vaccinate a lot of mice that would work that's very very hard to do there are a lot of mice and they don't live very long so yeah constant struggle to constantly be vaccinating all of the mice everywhere which is really not feasible so maybe we should vaccinate whatever the mice eat and then they'll get the vaccine one of them I see potentially a mice unfortunately very a large amount of things Oh kind of yeah they're they're generalists they eat lots and lots of things okay we're still working on it we'll get there okay yeah we're gonna solve this problem right in this in the next ten minutes so you got these reservoir species and a lot of these white-footed mice have to have the disease in order for Lyme disease to spread to people and sorry like in the mouse population right in order for it to get transmitted to the tick and in order for the chick to bite you and transmitted infection so so if we're not vaccinating all the mice is there something that we can find out about how the mice are getting this disease that will help us actually influence the number of people who are getting the disease absolutely so it turns out with this particular disease what we found is that increasing biodiversity leads to less disease okay so areas that have higher diversity of other mammals things like chipmunks and opossums and other rodents in addition to weight footed might things that might sort of like eat the same stuff be in the same niche in this particular example it's really kind of more about other things that takes feed on oh so here like white-footed mice are really good we call them competent hosts they really grow the bacteria really well mm-hmm so a tick comes along and bites that Mouse and gets infected and now we have an infected tick and it's looking for its next meal if it passes it on to another Mouse then it grows really weird there and then it gets passed on if it feeds on something else which doesn't grow the bacteria very well okay something like a chipmunk or a possum then the infection doesn't spread so it's not about what the mice eats now about well the tickets yes exactly so that's an example of how increasing biodiversity can lead to a decrease and infection prevalence so in ticks which then leads to less ticks biting humans that are infected and so is decrease of infection in humans so plenty of ticks still out there just fewer of them have Lyme disease in fact I don't really think about the tick having Lyme disease is it negatively affected at all you know course it isn't who are we kidding but take us it's how long does it does it take even have opinions so do you have active ongoing research right now and and is this is this effect like always the case we're like more biodiversity is good news for like disease gets transmitted less right so that's a really good question and that is something that has been a big debate among disease ecologist which is my field I consider myself a disease ecologist eee's ecologist yes that exists yeah it does so this is a really big question this has been a big debate is that a general phenomenon so we know what happens for Lyme disease that as you increase species diversity you get less disease but does that happen for all infectious diseases does it happen for a handful of others that's been a big debate and actually there are some instances where you might expect the opposite relationship that as you increase diversity you might see more disease because what we want as ecologists is for it to be always more of our diversity is better for human yeah that's the story we want it to our public health I'll be awesome for both biodiversity conservation and public health it would be this really great positive message like save the planet by not getting Lyme disease save diversity don't get Lyme disease all these other nasty diseases like that's a really great message but but it doesn't seem to be true for every disease there are there are other examples where more diversity might lead to more disease yeah so there are things like parasites with complex life cycles so there are some parasites that need multiple hosts in order to complete their whole life cycles there are some like that need a bird host and amphibian and I have a free-living stage in the in a pond and so if you don't have all of the species that are necessary for their lifecycle then you don't have disease right and so then there it's a positive relationship but between biodiversity and disease yeah so it's been this big question you know where which one is more prevalent and we're starting to come to the agreement that there's more of the more of the negative relationship part we call it a dilution effect because biodiversity dilutes out disease so it's that positive that's a good more common for it to be the good thing as with everything in science we find that it's blurry and so there's some good and some bad the good is that weighing the bad right so let me ask you this question we know that biodiversity is going down I'm aware of that that's definitely a thing yes it is like transmission of diseases to humans is that going up yes it is okay so we actually could explain that in two different ways okay so it's definitely true we're losing biodiversity and an alarming rate the rate of infectious disease outbreaks in humans has increased over the last 20 to 30 and this is but specifically infectious disease from so if that both yeah so both just human disease outbreaks but also those things that are transmitted from animals so especially those okay yeah so just that correlation indicates that there's that relationship but it's actually also possible that you could see that same relationship if you had the positive relationship between biodiversity and disease because let's say for example you go into a really biodiverse area in the tropics uh-huh there's lots of different species there but they also potentially could have a lot of different infectious diseases right so it could spread into humans right it's just there are more people going to those places because because they're going there to decrease biodiversity that's not the intent but that is the effect that they're having by turning it into cropland or anta foresting or whatever so those things that we're doing that are causing the biodiversity loss might be what's leading to the outbreaks rather than the biodiversity loss itself right so Malaysia you know this hotspot of biodiversity in the tropics and really pristine a habitat where there was lots of biodiversity there were bats that lived in this area these gorgeous flying foxes that have like five foot wingspans that are fruit-eating bats and we went down and cut down their trees that they roost it in and I'll do a research team no not me personally this is people we know so people went in and cut down the habitat cut down the fruit trees and in their place they put up a pig farm and alongside orchards so the bats didn't have their natural habitat but they had this nice orchard where they could eat the fruit and so now they're starting to roost in that orchard and eat the fruit and they're eating fruit partially eaten fruits dropping to the ground that has their saliva on it which could have viruses on it which happened to be the case in 1999 in Malaysia so they were dropping fruit to the ground that had virus on it and now pigs who were at the pig farms right next door had access to that fruit and we're getting infected and an infection spread to the pain and killed a lot of pigs and then the infection spread to humans and killed already humans so we got a bat disease yeah I didn't even know you could get it back to see if they seemed very not related to us yeah but feel like once a pig gets a disease I'm I'm scared yeah and now I want to know what your active research is cuz I don't think it's any of the things you've already talked about so but I am generally interested in this question about how biodiversity affects disease and we talked about how it could have either a positive or a negative relationship on disease and so I study a system hantavirus and deer mice and find that we actually see both of those things at the same time oh okay positive and negative relationship oh my okay I don't know how you figure that out but first looks like what does hantavirus not a virus yes well there are different types of hantavirus but there's one main one here in the US and it was discovered in about 1993 after an El Nino brought a lot of rain to an area and we saw an outbreak in the mouse population we saw the mouse mice populations increased and then it spilled over into humans and caused 13 deaths right in a row bunch of clusters and to where it was easy to see oh there's something new we haven't identified yet mm-hm and so we identified that as a new hantavirus and but it it's a mostly a problem of the western half of the US if you live in the eastern half you probably haven't heard of it if you live in the western half and the Rocky Mountain States you've probably heard of it yeah so there have been about 700 or so cases since it was first discovered in 93 and about a third of those have ended in death so it's pretty bad it's one don't want guys yeah so how could you tell that it has both a positive Ana net like biodiversity could have both effects yeah you'd think that it would either be like you'd see one effector you'd see the other effect well we'd see one main effect okay so we see that in areas that have high small mammal diversity so a lot of lot of rodents mostly hanging around we've got chipmunks and small squirrels and other types of mice so deer mice are the main reservoir but when there's lots of other small mammals around we see that prevalence of hantavirus is low in the deer mouse population okay but when we see that there really low diversity then we see a higher prevalence of infection so a bunch of deer mice and that's the only that's sort of the only person the only person the only species failing is it yeah then I'd like obviously like they have more opportunity to interact with each other and the disease spreads yeah how does it how do you get it hantavirus from other mouse of your mouse how does it spread between my yeah I'm being cagey because I it might be an STD okay it's not an STD it's directly transmitted both between mice and then between mice and humans way it's transmitted between mice is mostly through bites so aggressive encounter is like through the saliva but also through grooming each other the way humans get it is from sweeping up mouse poop usually it becomes aerosolized and then you breathe it in and so there might be some of that transmission happening with mice as well like in their nest so if there's a bunch of mouse poop in my house I should just leave it there you should spray it down with bleach water or Lysol or something that would kill virus yes the little tip thanks don't sweep it up don't use a pressure washer or something that's gonna like really like get it into the water right in my lungs okay that sounds like a great way to get a virus good thanks that's helpful information but you said that there was also sometimes the opposite effect so when we're talking about when there's less biodiversity that being good for the virus right so so the way this works is the overall pattern we see is negative that as you increase diversity you see less hantavirus but the reason that happens is because the main sort of driver of hantavirus prevalence is deer mouse numbers their density so if you have a more dense population of deer mice you've got a lot of mice you're gonna get a lot of interactions between mice and that means infection can spread more quickly we don't have a very dense population then infection just doesn't spread very quickly and so that's the main reason why we see that overall negative pattern right but at the same time you can also talk about things in terms of their transmission rate the rate at which infection spreads between individuals and so that can be for a given mouse density so say we have a population here where mouse density is 20 mice per hectare and 20 mice per hectare over here but this one has more diversity this one has less diversity what we see is infection spread faster here okay and the one where there is more diversity and so what effects why how does that happen so disease transmission is going up lift for the same density but with more on diversity that's right I would have no idea where that is yeah that's the big question that my labs trying to answer right now and there are two kind of big reasons why that could happen so the things that are part of that transmission rate are the contact rate between individuals and the probability of transmission given contact which is a function of immunity so if their immune systems are working really well then if they're exposed they are not necessarily going to get infected if their immune systems not working very well then they likely will get infected so the thought I'm gonna make hypotheses now that when there's more about diversity there's more competition for food among all the different animals and so deer mice might be you know sort of less fit and so might get like their immune systems might not be as good and also maybe they bite each other more often because they're fighting for resources yeah exactly so the two things we need to think about are the health of the animal and their context or behavior and both of those things could be affected by competition with other animals so just exactly like you're saying if you increase competition that could stress the animals out which leads to depressed immunity so if you if you've had a really stressful week then you're more likely to get sick yeah yeah everybody's probably experienced that same thing with mice if they're going through a really stressful time where there's a lot of competition going on with other species then they could be stressed their immune systems depressed they're more likely to get infected or it could change their behavior in some way it could make them more aggressive to where they're fighting each other more over resources it could be that they're sort of hanging out in what we call like refugee I like places sort of away from competitors right sort of like slurping throws are together yeah their density is actually higher in local areas exactly yeah so those are two ways in which we might see that relationship and so that's what my lab is trying to study right now and figure out which one of those is happening and then we can tell them I stopped doing this doing that but it's good that we do see that overall pattern generally that rises you increase diversity you see less disease so that that's one sort of potential maybe way we can try to protect things in the future let's not lose that biodiversity and then we're protecting ourselves and we don't lose that biodiversity because I don't want hantavirus and I don't do Lyme disease no neither one either one all right well that's fascinating I had no one I came into this one dry and so that was really cool to learn about something that I I did not know was even an area of study so thanks so much I have no idea what our friend Jessie is going to bring to us today but usually it's pretty good cool so let's do that all right tada tada Wow that very fast wasn't troublesome at all nice are you expecting this no well no it's a plant just a plant moving plants I mean if I oh yeah I don't know if you can see it from this a but the plant will start moving around camouflaging yourself a lot of times they will they're like it's windy and the like dude I'm also in them these are giant Indian stick insects so there's fastness and there might be pooping or laying an egg I'm not sure which they're about that age so I've never shown these guys off on scishow before we have a different species in before but these guys aren't full-grown they're gonna keep going they can get about eight inches long diseases from I mean I was very excited to bring these guys because your snow I mean I've been feeling like creepy listening to all like all the diseases like yeah all the animals I work with and the only bad thing that happens is these guys get released in the wild they become an invasive species and they kill all the trees in my park like yeah that's a bummer in Montana nah this species cuz they can't survive in the cold okay God these guys feed on ya but they are incredibly destructive down in places like California and the problem was oh hello did you see the arm she's like coming out yeah the good news is you can't be invasive here because the winter will kill you yeah well but these guys were given to hair would you like to hold er sure think I'm not really sure but in this direction hey creepy bug oh you look like a stick what are you what right what are you doing this is a fun dance like where do I go down fast I don't know how I feel like it was my face try it why I mean cuz it feels weird she had it they have tiny little hooks on their feet and they're excellent climbers I mean she's trying real hard giggles this hair whose hair is hard to hold on to but after a while you're like alright that's not bad yeah well if you get up onto my hair that I won't even know it's there yeah but now you don't know where she's gonna go very tickly actually even now it goes anywhere everybody's gotta have one well that's what the thing the thing was as these guys are fairly easy to care for you just need to give them you know a raspberry bush or um Blackberry or something perfect they like the berries no they just eat the leaves but they need that sort of like the in the rose and raspberry blackberry family you stick a plant in there they eat it they grow up and then they live six months to a year and died and so teachers would get them for their classroom pets they they're great way to teach about animals and then they would die and they would maybe have an enclosure like this and they would be like alright well the plants did the animals dead and they would toss it in the dumpster and that's it yeah but these guys can reproduce asexually as well as sexually okay so I've got a trick trick up your sleeve yep when there's no males around those you like no problem I got this your very long sleeves and these guys can lay up to a hundred eggs for a couple eggs a day and that's it yeah and then each one of those is a exact copy of that the mother and then she they grow up and then they do the same thing and this species actually there's no males in captivity is all females there are males in the wild just very very few huh yeah one I'm not sure how accurate this is I haven't been able to confirm but one write-up I found was they were their guesstimating one in every 10,000 male just for that occasional little jolt of diversity there you go yeah genetic diversity of these guys and so you know one little disease that these guys can wipe out a huge they're out there you know there are a lot of theories for for wydad sexual reproduction yeah and yeah these is one of them yeah yeah and so it's a lot of animals that can reproduce asexually also have that component of being able to sexually as well and so it's back up it is like the asexual is just a backup for when there is low population or very few males typically the genes in the human body that are the most diverse are your immune genes dealing with diversity so like your major histocompatibility complex MHC is something that is one of the most diverse genes in humans because the more diversity there is the greater chance that you'll be able to fight off yes is that you're exposed to hmm so you're actually there's studies showing that you're more sexually attracted to a partner that has a different image seen in you because your babies will be more fit I really want to understand the mechanisms that correlate with like a chemical you know descent and stuff stress so there's some kind of pheromones may be like they've shown that like smelling smelling sweaty shirts yeah men yes yeah that's it ones that smell better those are the ones that have different MHC than that there's so much going on below the surface you guys the slight caresses my ear are a little much turns on I that's a nerve cluster area she's found it is a good place for hold on to it we have compatible MH C's I'm not really feeling it's like ASMR but with touch I look at their little faces I know they have really dopey faces and their two front legs seem to be kind of also like into anything yeah yeah yeah a but it's only touch and then they're at tonight they pick up a lot of other chemical yeah anchors and then occasionally they're like oh wait that's their like easy and sometimes one will be off and they'll be like real slow I will be oh yeah it's fun when when they're in when they're calm and then kind of in the mood they will like sway back and forth when you blow on them which is which is cool and the this species they can pretend they're stick and then the the bird will come along and like pull Adam mm-hmm and pull a leg off and they're like nope I'm okay could you can grow their leg back in the next molt which is cool not all of them can do that but these guys can no she doesn't have a very good grip you can work on your new toe muscles do some climbing exercises buddy but these guys are really cool the green color works really well with the kind of plants that they like to live on because the branches tend to be more greenish over there like in your eye or mouth too that was earlier I had that situation um have you tried eating one no uh I'm getting close people do eat them though they're big beefy animals yeah this is a good little package for bird to eat or something but our lizards will eat these guys yeah that's a pretty good feast for them these guys don't have very many defenses it's just very it's just pretending they're stick and they're like falling through the tree if they get knocked off the ranch you got in here good job come here okay I had enough guys the stories I can tell so one of the coolest studies that I was finding is that um these guys they can't really move very quickly and they need really well I mean they're in trees and once they get on the ground things are gonna eat them yeah so they don't they can't fly and they can't like so they can't like just move their populations very well so they have two ways that they can kind of survive one is their eggs are covered by a really thick casing and so they can be eaten by a bird and then the bird will poop mount like an hour later and like you know a small percentage of them will survive and then of course it just takes one and boom population but also their eggs kind of look like seeds and so they could possibly find a way to survive in colder environments because the eggs will be picked up by ants brought back into their ant nest you know anthill kept warm over the winter then they hatch climb out cuz they're teeny tiny when they're babies and then they could survive in the colder temperatures well yeah not ideal choice then unless in your home your home habitat which I forgot what India India yeah there are lots of things they eat these guys there yeah plenty and lots of competition there are about 3,000 different species of stick insect you have to come in all different sizes there's like 18 inch ones lers some bright yellow ones there's some that have stabbers on the ends of their butts like their front arms have little divots so that it that like clasped around the head so they can so they can do that yeah movement over there yeah and then you know I show these two kids and they also often are kind of creeped out by them because they have super long legs yeah and then if you look closely if you you know mistakenly look at their face you like how can they bite me but no these guys can only pull apart leaves that's all they can do it their little Johnny had the balls Johnny never bites yeah in their mouth hole and that's how they do me too yeah yeah little toast cute too too little toes to the hook toes gimme gimme you're gonna you're going from my face again and I don't want it okay I climb up this is what I do it seems like you're expending a lot of energy right now well it's just scared you know she wants to go and hide somewhere look at these guys yeah they're all just pretty chill yeah this is I'm yeah there could be a bird anywhere Arthur chill Hank how's the how's the raspberry dude do you have to switch it out or do they destroy these poor raspberry I feel pretty bad I buy a little baby raspberry plants and feed it to my colony of I mean insects that devour it feed your insects to your lizards like it's the circle of life it is and then everything poops and then we make a garden we grow more raspberry that's right but ya know they will decimate this how long is a raspberry plant in there or um it depends on if I mean they go through these periods of like really hungry and then right they don't feel great because they're gonna mold and they molt and they wait a little bit and then they devour things again so it depends on what cycle but they could kill all or eat all of those in probably a week good they do good things there locally at the end there at the very at the very end it kind of opens did you remember seeing that one it kind of like yeah opens up and then it reminds me of a PEZ dispenser mm-hmm so it's like fruit and then and then sometimes it's like brown and bumpy it's a poop and sometimes it's brown and smooth and that's like well I hope that you all have a lovely life cycle and that you reproduce but only in captivity yes thank you Jesse yeah very big bugs to hang out today and thank you Angie thank you it's been fascinating to chat and also thanks to all of you if you want to find out more about what Jesse's doing you can go to youtube.com slash animal wonders Montana where there's a very good very educational and very fun show that she does and if you want to find out where what Angie's up to what's your lab yeah you can search for me on UM tiede you all right uh if you want to see more scishow where our youtube.com slash scishow there's always more stuff can I make you wave goodbye there you


  1. Sure, Hank was a little off his usual professionalism in this interview, but it was clearly because he was so mind-blown about a topic that was genuinely really cool and surprising. That was fun to watch.

  2. Zoonotic disease certainly has increased with human densities. It is not often spoken of, but African human populations are more than 1500% of populations at the turn of 1800s-1900.
    Hantavirus, mentioned as noted in 1993, was found a bit earlier, and by 1993 was noted in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

    The inverse relationship of predators to zoonotics is well-founded.

    THe immense Euroamerican persecution of coyotes and rattlesnakes (who NEVER attack, only defend from large animals) aligned with the explosion of human occupation of Southwest US deserts.

    Although it remains ongoing, sufficient saturation had occurred by 30 years ago, that the losses of predators I mention became acute. Hawks had earliest lost population, due to human influx into the wetlands of the Southwest and the once immense flyways – migratory bird corridors.
    I've identified these elsewhere, but the public with its solipsistic focus on growth, expansion, and habitat takeover for the exploding human population, caused , through desert dessication (water channeling and pumping – the once-vast Owens Lake, which had ferries operating before 1912, is a massive salt pan, with defunct towns. Las Vegas, once seasonal wet meadows, and numerous other smaller-scale human intrusions destroyed a major flyway), gun hunting, and the persecution I mentioned.

    So, from New Mexico through , most recently, Yosemite Valley, developed increased deer mouse populations, and consequent hantavirus infection.
    Predators also profoundly affect behavior, reducing overdensely socially connected prey. Predator digestive fluids are far more caustic to proteins and other molecules (take it from one who has studied wolf, coyote, and other predator scat!), and they ar naturally, evolutionarily suited to reduce disease.

    Humans cannot control evolution; and where niches occur, (not Nitches – Niches!) they will be filled. While far more viruses parasitize or predate upon bacteria, than any other organism, the complexities of horizontal gene transfer, assist fast response to prey densities.
    Your own species has become overconnected, far too dense, and experiences reduced and autoimmune response in part due to this overpopulation along with innovative unpredictably toxic molecules further stripping of immune system coherence, through even social stress. Expect evolution to find humans increasingly useful.

    For a lesson in just how extensive ecological cascades can be, explore the atmospheric CO2 concentrations since Cambrian – apply HHS Theory, and find that predators, from the persecuted southwestern Mexican Gray Wolf, to hawk, rattler, and virus, have , will, and SHOULD be encouraged to restore biological diversity. The present is a horrible period of accelerating extinctions, population diminutions from ocean to Arctic, desert to estuaries and oases, forests to once-diversely garzed and predated grasslands, from butterflies to salamanders.
    You will have to begin making room, withdrawing from cementing over and plowing under forests for your own food and profit.

  3. Wow hank, were you hitting the cold medicine a bit hard before this? XD Usually you strike such a good balance with directing your guests, not so much in this one. Her mounting frustration with your fairly inane questions was deeply funny to me. So… positive result is what I’m saying. Sincerely, A faithful and loyal fan, cold or no cold.

  4. This was an awesome interview. Very informative.

    Also this Dr. Luis is pretty cute. I have to admit I was very observant whilst listening to her explain how disease transmission occurs between species, and boy were both of those things keeping me quite intrested in the conversation. I would go along for a scientific expedition to a far off place with her in heartbeat. Where do i sign up?

  5. lets not blame the bats here. some can carry lyssa i guess, but thats a very small number, like 1%. if those sweety snoots would have had their roosting trees, none of this would have happened. i blame the farmers.
    just dont get all up in natures Biz man. you know?
    dont make out with monkeys, your gonna get sick.
    dont share food with pigs, your gonna get sick.
    dont make pigs share food with bats.
    it seems pretty simple to me.

  6. Dr. Luis is so cool and patient, Hank us sooo awkward though ^-^'
    I wish I'd paid more attention in school, disease ecology sounds so interesting =(

  7. how about breeding genetically superior supermice which are immune to lime disease and replace the natural mousepopulation? Boom! problem solved!

    aaaaand in about a thousand years humans will be wiped out by a genetically superior supermice-race…..

  8. Not quite the same idea as vaccinating mice against Lyme, but vaccinate them against ticks (sortof): Tick tubes! Soak cotton balls, dryer lint, old shredded T-shirts or other fluff in permethrin, then let them dry. Stuff the fluff in some old toilet paper tubes, drop around your outdoorsy mousy property. Mice will take the fluff to their nest (or nest in the tubes directly). They're unharmed by the permethrin, but any ticks that come home with them will be killed. (You can also buy these tubes pre-made.) This is considered a tick control method, not directly a Lyme-disease control method, but obviously reducing the first is going to reduce the latter.

    (This can be harmful to feral cats that eat the mice though, so it's not flawless.)

  9. See, this is why I don't like the label of asexual being applied to people. People with no sex drive should be non sexual or something else because asexual means you reproduce by cloning yourself. As far as I know, people still can't do that…

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