Barberry Blitz: The Barberry-Tick Connection

Do you have this plant in your yard?

There is  scientific evidence of a relationship between ticks and barberry,a plant commonly used by landscapers and often seen in our own backyards.  Connecticut towns, headed off by Newtown, Conservation Commission have initiated a "Barberry Blitz" to try and educate the public about this invasive and insidious plant. 

 

Why we should control barberry in our yards – the barberry-tick connection

 

    Japanese Barberry grows wild but frequently can be found in many landscaped lawns in Newtown. Unfortunately, barberry is an invasive plant, and perhaps even more importantly, it poses a health risk, harboring black-legged ticks which can cause tick borne diseases. Barberry is one of the first shrubs to green up in the spring, providing an opportunity for early identification.  Search IPANE for Berberis thunbergii for additional pictures.

 Issues with barberry:

  • Early greening blocks native species with a thorny, difficult growth.
  • Barberry provides shelter for white-footed mice which are a major carrier of black-legged ticks which transmit tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. The high humidity and shade provided by the barberry makes a perfect habitat for tick survival.

What can you do to help?

  • Identify barberry in your yard or neighborhood (see pictures).  Conservation Commission or Land Use staff will help as necessary to identify (Land Use 270-4276).
  • Cut barberry down on your property and bag cuttings to be taken to the transfer station for proper disposal.
  • Dig up roots if possible and take for disposal.
  • Make sure you inspect yourself for ticks after completing your work.
  • Work with your neighbors to do the same .

 

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