Deer ticks and barberry shrubs

Asked August 2, 2018, 12:44 PM EDT

i read a recent article that deer ticks are heavily infested in barberry shrubs. It was recommended that they be removed. I have a grouping of 5 shrubs around a pond next to a patio. What is your opinion on this? Thank you Lydia Volz

Ramsey County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi Lydia--
Here's what I've found in the research:

(there are additional articles. My seach team was: "deer tick barberry site:.edu" . Adding the site:.edu makes it so search engines limit your search to things from educational entities.

The article talks about barberry creating conditions where deer ticks thrive. "...he Barberry creates a perfect, humid environment for ticks. Williams recites the numbers. ”When we measure the presence of ticks carrying the Lyme spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) we find 120 infected ticks where Barberry is not contained, 40 ticks per acre where Barberry is contained, and only 10 infected ticks where there is no Barberry.”

So, if barberry becomes invasive, it attracts the most deer ticks, if it's managed well somewhat less ticks but still more than if there are NO barberry plants.

Minnesota added barberry to it's list of invasive species in 2015:
http://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2016/02/japanese-barberry-added-to-minnesotas.html because birds eat the berries and then "deposit" the seeds in other places, allowing the barberry to spread beyond where it's originally planted.

There is no research based guidance on you NEEDING to remove the barberry but give these two articles (there's a link to the Dept of Ag info on noxious weeds in the 2nd one) a read to help decide. The DO recommend trimming the berries off them to prevent spreading of the shrubs to places you don't intend them to end up.The article from the U of M gives a good list of recommendations for shrubs that you could replace them with, if you decide to go that route.

Hope this helps!