Island's rainy summer blamed for duller foliage, lots more ticks this fall
You can blame at least a couple more things on this year's crappy weather
The consequences of the wet weather on P.E.I. this summer will extend into the fall, with Island outdoor enthusiasts hit with at least two bummers: muted leaf colours and an army of ticks.
The relative lack of sunshine in August is leading to less vibrant fall colours this year, according to a plant expert with Dalhousie University.
Plant eco-physiology professor Mason MacDonald says the cloudy weather led to lower levels of pigments like anthocyanins in the leaves of deciduous trees. That's likely the reason why colours are duller this year.
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"What really makes the colours pop are the anthocyanins. That's what gives you the really deep and vibrant reds," MacDonald said.
"In order for those colours to be made, they need to get adequate sunshine in the later parts of summer and in the very early parts of autumn.... If I was gambling on it, it would be the fact that we had the most overcast, most cloud cover this August that we've had in such a long time."
MacDonald said anything that affects photosynthesis is going to change the production of pigments, and that the lack of sunlight was likely a bigger problem than the moist weather.
Ticks thriving in the cold damp
Potato and grain farmers and other growers on P.E.I. have already blamed the wet summer for damage to crops ahead of the harvest season. The at-times heavy rain also caused many events to be cancelled or moved indoors.
Now you can blame the rain for something else: an uptick in ticks.
Vett Lloyd, a professor of biology at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick and director of the Lloyd Tick Lab, said the parasitic critters thrive in cool and damp conditions.
This summer was "perfect for them. It's not for us," said Lloyd.
"People are showing up more in hospitals [and] vet clinics to get help with them. Aside from one cold snap, it was actually a fairly tick-friendly winter, and the cold snap wouldn't have slowed them down. So yeah, they're generally just loving it.
"We'll also have a bumper crop of ticks next year as a result of this wet summer."
Lloyd said only a really prolonged cold snap would knock ticks back, but that's less likely every year due to the changing climate. She said a nice snow cover would mean it's less likely people come into contact with them.
The professor said anyone who spend time in the woods or long grass should take precautions and check themselves and their pets for ticks, because they are carriers of disease.
Many ticks in the Maritimes are carrying Lyme disease, which can cause chronic pain and dizziness when it infects people and animals.
Lyme can be treated with antibiotics, but the best protection against it is to find the tick early and take precautions when removing it.
With files from Island Morning